Documentary about the 25th and last bombing mission of a B17, the "Memphis Belle". The "Memphis Belle" took part in a great bombing raid on sub-pens in Wilhelmshafen, Germany. On their way ... See full summary »
James A. Verinis
A part-talkie released at a time when the public was clamoring for sound, this demonstrates the difficulty Carl Laemmle faced in 1929 when he was unable to secure Fox's Movietone sound system on a permanent basis. Often the equipment would be available for a week. Universal spent the year rushing production of their 100% talking pictures, facing the dilemma of releasing their better films in a less desirable part-talking format. See more »
I'd never heard of this one prior to the announcement just a couple of weeks back of its screening on late-night Italian TV but, obviously, I become interested in it because the film represented the earliest facet of director Wyler's career I'd ever come across; actually, while it was supposedly a part-Talkie, the version I watched was completely Silent!
Anyway, the resulting effort is charming and reasonably stylish (even at this stage, Wyler was experimenting with deep-focus photography) but hardly the masterpiece as described by a commentator on the IMDb following its recent restoration and screening in film festivals. Interestingly, the film shares most of its plot line with two famous tearjerkers Charles Chaplin's THE KID (1921) and King Vidor's THE CHAMP (1931) being the adventures of a con-man boxer reformed by a spunky homeless boy; however, the latter (played by Jack Hanlon) isn't very sympathetic and displays little of either Jackie Coogan or Jackie Cooper's talent!
Incidentally, THE SHAKEDOWN features the same leading-man as Vidor's masterpiece THE CROWD (1928) the tragic James Murray; Barbara Kent, then, who had starred in Paul Fejos' LONESOME (1928) another highly-regarded 'city' film appears as the female protagonist here (but isn't given much to do). For what it's worth, the boxing sequences (as well as a fist-fight between the kid and another boy) are quite well-staged; however, the film's highlight has to be the remarkable scene early on in which Murray and Hanlon get caught on a railway track between two speeding trains!
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