Stranger in Town (1931)
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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.
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.
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.