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Malcolm St. Clair
Johnny Mack Brown,
Cafe entertainer Ivy Stevens falls for sleazy salesman Howard Palmer and jumps from a bridge when he dumps her. Saved by Salvation Army officer Carl, Ivy reforms and joins the Army. When she runs into Palmer she falls for him all over again. Carl beats up Palmer and gives a speech to Ivy which induces her to return to the Army and to Carl. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This film is probably the weakest of the Gable/Crawford film pairings. It's not that their performances aren't great, it's just that they're not given that much to do. The storyline is very basic - Joan is a performer in a nightspot who has had a long-distance affair going with a traveling salesman, Howard Palmer (Neil Hamilton), for the past two years. He dumps her to marry the boss' daughter so he can further his career. He doesn't even have the courage to tell this to her face - he writes it on the back of a menu at the cafe and leaves before she reads it.
This action wounds Ivy (Joan) to the core, and she is about to jump off a bridge one night when she is stopped by a Salvation Army member, Carl Loomis (Clark Gable). The two become friends and pretty soon Ivy is donning a Salvation Army uniform herself. One night a year later, when Ivy and the Salvation Army are proselyting in a nearby town, she runs into her ex-lover Howard Palmer. After a year of separation Howard has decided he would like to have it both ways - he'd like to have his bang (Ivy) and his bucks (his wife of convenience). Will Ivy stand firm on her new beliefs or will she fall? This film does have a few good things going for it. In the first part of the film, when Ivy is still working in the nightclub, we get to see Joan sing and dance for an entire number. She doesn't do much of that in her long film career and it is always a treat. Then there is the somewhat ridiculous spectacle of Clark Gable as a Salvation Army worker - this is before he became known more as a charming sinner rather than a laughing one. You can chalk up that bit of casting to Louis B. Mayer. This film was originally shot with Johnny Mack Brown in the lead, but Mayer didn't like the outcome and reshot it with Gable. Finally there is Neil Hamilton as one of the most slippery characters you'll find. Hard to believe he didn't have a real career breakthrough for almost another 35 years when he was cast as Batman's Commissioner Gordon.
This whole issue of the thin line between good and evil in a person and the fact that those two sides exist in everyone is much more artfully explored in 1932's Rain, again starring Joan Crawford. That's a film I highly recommend.
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