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Troubles begin for the Sterlings when they buy an expensive car. Friends press them for rides; Marilyn has an accident which Gilbert must get $5,000 from his boss to pay for. They finally sell the car to the janitor. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
'Six Cylinder Love' is based on a stage play which dates back to the period (before World War One) when automobiles first became (barely) affordable for middle-class Americans, and when it was still somewhat of a novelty to own a car ... or even to know somebody who owned one.
The cast list implies that this is a Spencer Tracy movie. Spence is here, in comedy mode and near the top of his form, but he plays a supporting role and is absent for long stretches of this film. The main characters are Mr and Mrs Sterling, newlyweds. She's played by dull unattractive Sidney Fox, and he's played by Lorin Raker, of whom more later.
SPOILERS COMING. Gilbert Sterling works for high-pressure auto salesman Donroy (Tracy). The Sterlings buy a car from Donroy, but then discover they can't afford the upkeep ... especially as their friends keep cadging rides. It transpires that Donroy previously sold the same car to the Sterlings' neighbour next-door over, who resold it when *he* couldn't afford the upkeep either. The neighbour is named Richard Burton (no comment), and is played by William Collier ... who was getting jokes out of this same comedy situation back in silent days, in his movie "Wife and Auto Trouble".
Donroy is certain that he can resell the Sterlings' car for them, if only he can find a 'minute man' ... which is his term for 'one of those born every minute'. Eventually, Mrs Sterling has a smash-up which the Sterlings can't pay for, prompting meek Gil Sterling to embezzle the funds from his boss. There's a happy ending when the Sterlings sell the car to their apartment house's janitor, who has lots of cash from his second job as a bootlegger. (He moonlights making moonshine.) The humour in this movie is nearly as dated as the premise. Tracy's comedy style is impressive, but I stress that he plays a supporting role. For me, the most bizarre thing about this movie is the actor in the central role. Lorin Raker looks *exactly* like director John Waters! Raker is a wispy little man, slightly effeminate, with a tiny Little Richard moustache. Except for the fact that John Waters has a broken blood vessel in one eye, he and Raker could be clones. All the time that Raker was on screen in this movie, I kept expecting Divine and Edith Massey to show up.
I'll rate 'Six Cylinder Love' 4 out of 10, for the deft performances by several supporting players ... including Spencer Tracy.
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