Among the travelers of varied backgrounds that meet and interact on one night at Union Depot, a metropolitan train station, are Chick and his friend Scrap Iron, both newly released from prison after serving time for vagrancy. Hungry and desperate for a break, Chick fortuitously comes across across a valise abandoned by a drunken traveler. In it he finds a shaving kit and a suit of clothes with a bankroll, which help transform the affable tramp into a dashing gent. After buying himself a meal, Chick seeks some female companionship among the many hustlers who walk the station. He propositions Ruth Collins, a stranded, out-of-work showgirl and takes her to the station's hotel. However, he quickly realizes she's not a streetwalker but another hard luck victim of the Depression. Touched by the Ruth's sincerity, he vows to help her buy a ticket to Salt Lake City, where a job awaits her. Scrap Iron is lucky too, stumbling across a wallet with a claim check discarded by a pickpocket. When ... Written by
Here is a film set entirely in or very near a 1930's train station. Thousands of people moving in and through, each with a story. You would have to be as old as I am to understand that train depots, especially in big cities, were nearly as big and even busier than the airports of today. The film has a dark and harsh quality, which in many ways, is typical of the period. Here is an out of work chorus girl (Joan Blondell) desperate to get $54.00 for a ticket to Salt Lake City, almost willing to prostitute herself to get it; here is a pair of hobos (Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and Guy Kibbee) willing to steal clothes and finding money therein. They run afoul of a counterfeiter, a sexual sadist and the law, and through a series of highly unlikely coincidences manage to keep the plot hopping. This film has some superb camera work, great editing, and some wonderfully underplayed acting, especially by Joan Blondell. It's no wonder she was such a workhorse for Warner's. She could pretty much do it all. It's well worth the hour or so spent watching.
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