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William A. Wellman
Edward G. Robinson,
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
If it's not the plot, the locales, the characters, the old acting style, the old manner of speaking, the manners of the era, the "clean" way of thinking, the gritty realism and authentic feel of location shooting inside or outside or sometimes even the costumes...something always captivates me about the talkies of 30's and late 20's.
There may not be prodigious film-making here but two scenes will remain engraved in my memory:
1- The blind man struggling alone in the rain in the railway yard. One particular close-up was intriguing. There was no intense melodrama here, just a man in turmoil. Wonderfully done.
2- Bill's encounter at the end with an old "friend". As Bill realizes that this old friend may offer him some hope he runs out and boards a moving train. He proceeds to get on the roof to release his romantic glee by running down the entire length of the train from caboose to the engine car. His boyish joy made me smile.
Ah, that bygone era of innocence. With all of the misery that happened then, these were some of the charming highlights that linger on.
We are the richer for the preservation of every film from that era. Each contributes another chapter in the art of film and of the heart of man's growth.
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