Railroad fireman Bill White is a carefree ladies' man with an irresponsible streak. His buddy Jack Kulper, an engineer, is more solid and reliable. Bill comes to stay a while with Jack and his wife Lily. Bill and Lily fall in love, but not wishing to hurt Jack, Bill leaves without explanation. When Jack confronts Bill about his suspicions, the two fight and Jack is seriously injured. Bill is consumed with guilt and tries to make good, but Jack has his own ideas about that. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Simplistic and corny but so well made you can still really enjoy it.
Other Men's Women (1931)
If you only watch the first twenty minutes of this you'll get a slightly corny movie about a couple of pals and a couple of gals and a slightly mixed set of affections that is pure innocence. The acting is a little forced, but there is good fluid camera-work, bright, complex scenes, and all kinds of really rare location shooting in railroad yards (and on top of railroad cars). It's fun in its own way, but the two main male characters are so happy and glib they seem weirdly dated.
But then the first twist comes into play--and the title gives an idea there (though it shouldn't be plural, I would think). Also, remember this is a pre-code film so it plays openly with things like adultery in a way that wouldn't happen starting in 1934, three years later.
Now don't get the idea that things get too steamed up here. It's still a depression era big studio romance and it isn't going to take actual chances morally. Or aesthetically. The leading woman is a very young Mary Astor and she's terrific, more naturalistic than the men (neither of whom is well known). The male actor of growing fame (or future fame, largely) is James Cagney, and his role is very very limited, but familiar. He has an edgy intensity that is startling--and he can dance, too. Briefly. Look for Joan Blondell, as well, and though she was in endless films (50 of them just in the 1930s) she's always perky and alive.
The movie never quite rises above its plain approach and this is appropriate because it makes it possible for the movie to talk about what might go wrong between very regular people in a case of one man hitting on the other's wife. It is always rather open and accessible in its own way, you might even say modern in the way it's filmed. Director William Wellman isn't always appreciated on the highest level, but he had an unaffected touch, less art and more humanity, than some other more famous directors, and it's in full force here, easy to like.
The movie also surprised me with its effects and its high drama toward the end. I won't say more, but the rain just won't stop. Great atmosphere, lots of night shooting in the rain, and a scary climax, visually (not so compelling dramatically, I'm afraid). Great fun!
So why isn't this better than it is? One is a script that is a bit awkward or forced at times, both in the dialog and in the forced melodrama. The other is some acting (by the two men--Grant Withers and Regis Toomey) that is just weak. And the situations are highly emotional and demanding. This is another of Wellman's traits, unfortunately--even in his acclaimed and astonishing "Wings" from 1927 there is a feeling of some kind of acting and writing stiffness that brings down an otherwise brilliant kind of production.
Should you see this? If you like early talkies, yes. If you want a tight story with intelligence and depth, I'm not so sure. Enter forewarned. I liked it, I did, but I partly just got, uh, swept away by the way it was shot. And the common DVD transfer from film is first rate, clean and clear!
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