Stranger in Town (1931) Poster

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Pretty Basic Early Talkie
Clay Loomis9 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The story of a man who stops his wagon in the middle of nowhere and starts a town in the late 1800's. Next thing you know it's fifty years later and the man, Ulysses Crickle, has become the proprietor/postmaster of the combined general store/post office. Crickle's grand daughter returns to town, traveling with a man who opens a new modern store to compete with Crickle. Old man Crickle can't compete with the big store, and then the troubles just seem to pile on to drive him to ruin. As the Great Depression kicks in, Crickle devises a plan to get back in the game. The movie plays out pretty well with some humor and sentiment. Charles Sale plays the old codger role very convincingly. As was often the case for Depression era movies, it all works out well in the end. This showed today on TCM, which has a good reputation for getting great copies of old films, but this one was a little rough, with some scratches and momentary sound drop outs, but was otherwise quite watchable. Pretty good condition really, considering the film is 80 years old.
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Remember the Depression?
drednm22 February 2017
Chic Sale was a major Vaudeville star who also appeared on Broadway and in silent films. In this 1931 film from Warners, Sale made his feature-film talkie debut after a few shorts.

He plays Ulysses Crickle, a man who stops "going west" when he gets a boil on his butt from riding in a Conestoga wagon. He decides the start a town on the spot. Fifty years later, we see Crickle as the leading citizen of his Arkansas town. He's the postmaster and he owns the general store. His granddaughter (Ann Dvorak) comes home from business college, and everything seems fine.

But being 1931, things are changing fast. A chain supermarket decides to open a store in town, right across the street from Crickle's. The man sent to open the store (David Manners) falls for Dvorak and becomes Crickle's enemy. The chain store, being a big corporation, fights dirty to drive Crickle out of business. Crickle can't compete with their prices so he institutes a barter system so the locals can get food even when they have no money. Of course Manners is innocent of his company's shenanigans and helps Crickle beat them in the end.

Interesting 1931 looks at the rise of chain stores and how how they ruined local "mom and pop" businesses and also the barter system, which was a fact of life for many during the Depression.

Sale is quite good as Crickle in a role that could have been played by Will Rogers. Dvorak and Manners are good as the young lovers, though they don't have much to do. Other town folks include Noah Beery as Crickle's nemesis, Maude Eburne as the widow with romance on her mind, Raymond Hatton as the wiseguy, Lyle Talbot as the corporate man, and Ben Hall as the store clerk. J. Farrell MacDonald, Louise Carter, Jessie Arnold, Wilfred Lucas, Dorothy Vernon, and Margaret Mann also appear.
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Make it 7.5! Where have all Sales' admirers gone?
JohnHowardReid3 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Grocery store owner, Chic Sale, is forced to protect his Boilsville, Ark., business from the wicked ways of a rival chain-operated store. His fight gets complicated when his grand-daughter falls in love with the competition, played here by David Manners.

This is a delightful vehicle for Chic Sale in which he provides another of his amusing yet sympathetic rustic characterizations. By his usual so-so standard, Erle C. Kenton's direction is astonishingly slick and he also handles a really diverting chase climax with similar finesse Here is a "B" movie that most moviegoers took to with relish. Admittedly, Charles "Chic" Sale was an easily recognizable type that readily appealed to the majority of both rural and city audiences. Well, he did back in 1932. I doubt if he would have the same impact today. Let's see if Warner Archive ever gets around to pressing a DVD.
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Nothing to Get Excited About....
kidboots30 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Long before Bette Davis was even important enough to go on suspension Ann did it first, rebelling at the amount of mediocre roles she was given and the fact that the little boy in "Three on a Match" earned more than she did!! Most interesting aspect is that when Warners gave up and started putting her in any old role that came along, they proved some of her most interesting - "Housewife", "Massacre", "Dr. Socrates" and "Blind Alley". Certainly not bits of mediocrity like "Stranger in Town", where she was definitely just "the girl" and not having enough screen time to put her unique stamp on a role that any ingenue could have played. Being a "Chic" Sale movie, he has plenty of chances to spout his home spun philosophy about America being for Americans and "over here we all speak the same language" etc. He plays Ulysses Crickle, an amiable old timer who runs the post office and the only general store in town. That is until a "stranger" Jerry Fleming (David Manners) comes to town, employed to run a cut price grocery store - in direct competition to Crickle's!!!! Marian (beautiful Ann Dvorak) is home from business school and desperate to put some of her ideas to practical use to spruce up her Grandpa's store and lure back his old customers who have taken their trade to the newer store. The grand opening of "Crickle's Modern Grocery" is over before it begins as the small store cannot compete with the cheaper prices of it's opposition. Grandpa then organises a Farmer's Market to help people on the land who are doing it tough because of the recent bank closures. The cut price grocery starts to feel the pinch and brings in ruthless trouble shooter (Lyle Talbot) who along with the grouchy sheriff (Noah Beery) set in motion a plan to cut off supplies to the little co-op. Mild mannered Jerry, who incidentally has married Marian, doesn't like the tactics of the cut price store and joins forces with Grandpa and in a climatic scene that was repeated in John Wayne's "Lawless Range". brings much needed supplies to the struggling farmers. This movie is nothing to get excited about and Ann would have to wait until "Three on a Match" for a punchy, unforgettable role.
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You can't keep a town founder down for long.
mark.waltz6 February 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Ulysses Crickle practically started the town of Boilsville, named after the fact that as he settled in, he happened to have one one in a most inconvenient spot. After fifty years go by, he's the proprietor of the general store as well as postmaster. Running the store with him is his beautiful granddaughter who is entranced by the arrival of a big city dude who has been sent to open a general store chain right across the street with cut prices. This drives grandpa's sales down, and with the news that he's been displaced as postmaster, Grandpa is very despondent. To add to that, his granddaughter announces her elopement with the stranger in town, the future looks truly grim. Then the banks crash, leading to the depression.

Charles "Chic" Sale is energetic and feisty, playing an octogenarian at half the age. He is seen at his real age on a prologue set on 1871. Lovely Ann Dvorak is fine as his granddaughter, while David Manners manages to make his interloper very likable. Other comic standouts include Maude Eburne as a pesky widow anxious to capture Grandpa as her next husband and gravel voiced Noah Beery who takes over as postmaster and refers to Ulysses as Useless. Typical but likable Warner Brothers programmer tells a simple story with grace and humanity.
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