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Spencer Tracy's Fox films are an interesting lot and one can count himself lucky if he gets to see any of his early work. For some reason the films that he did at that first studio he was contracted to are rarely seen, some I suspect are lost. Fortunately Me And My Gal was not. And it's a real Irish treat.
Me And My Gal casts Tracy in a part that either James Cagney or Pat O'Brien would have scored brilliantly with at Warner Brothers. He's a happy go lucky tough Irish cop who falls for wisecracking waitress Joan Bennett. Joan's just fine, but Joan Blondell or Barbara Stanwyck would have been perfect casting.
Bennett has a sister Marian Nixon who is married to George Chandler, but fooling around with gangster Frank Walsh. When he makes a daring prison break he takes refuge in Nixon's house while Chandler who is a merchant seaman is away. Also in the house is Chandler's father a wheelchair bound paralyzed World War veteran played by silent movie pioneer Henry B. Walthall. Walthall has an interesting way of communicating to the outside world his thoughts that prove ultimately to be Walsh's undoing.
Some nice snappy dialog banter between Tracy and Bennett is what really moves this film along. At one point these two do a really great parody of Strange Interlude by Eugene O'Neill. It should be seen beside the film version of same that MGM did that same year with Clark Gable and Norma Shearer and one the Marx Brothers did in Animal Crackers. It's as funny as the Marx Brothers.
Tracy's role here is very typical of the kind of roughneck parts he did in his early years for the most part. He was even doing the same roles in his first few MGM contract parts. His advancement to becoming what many consider to be the screen's greatest actor ever came when Jeanette MacDonald asked for him to be cast as Father Mullin in San Francisco. That opened a career whole new vistas for him.
Still these early films do have a lot going for them. Write to TCM and get some of these out on DVD and shown on television. Let's hope many of them still exist.
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