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C. Aubrey Smith
Highly entertaining pre-code from MGM about a loving husband (Richard Dix) who embezzles some money in order to keep his shop-happy wife (Madge Evans) into the things she needs. The husband gets sent away for two years and while the maid (Una Merkel) is busy taking care of the two kids, the wife is out doing other things. There's a lot more details to the plot but I'm going to quit there because the twists are so good that there's really no point in ruining them for those unfamiliar with the picture. It's always great fun when a film buff can see a forgotten movie and then go out and sing its praises and DAY OF RECKONING is just the type of film that deserves to be rediscovered. I'm sure most people are familiar with the always fun Dix but this here is without question one of the best performances I've seen from him. This character goes through quite a bit in the picture and I thought Dix was incredibly sympathetic but when he "snaps" you can believe and see the rage and anger in his eyes. Evans is also extremely entertaining as the wife and there's no question that Conway Tearle makes for a great villain. Merkel steals nearly every scenes she's in as the loving maid and manages to bring some laughs. Classic film fans will also recognize Raymond Hatton, Paul Hurst, George 'Spanky' McFarland and D.W. Griffith regular Wilfred Lucas can be briefly spotted. The screenplay certainly doesn't fall into the "B" movie traps and instead it stays original throughout and manages to throw a couple nice twists at the viewer as well. One of the best moments in the film is when the maid and her boyfriend are trying to write a letter and there's a baby in the sequence. It appears the baby is acting up and not really behaving like she's supposed to but it's rather cute seeing that the director just let it go and had the actors deal with it the best way that they could. DAY OF RECKONING is one of hundreds of films that have been forgotten but if you're a fan of classic dramas then it's a must see.
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