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Chandler, a con-man, and his helper Frank decide to create a clairvoyant act for the carny circuit, as a little research reveals Ameicans spent $125 million on mind-readers and astrology. The carny, renamed Chandra, falls for one of his marks, Sylvia, but their love is tested when he brings tragedy to other peoples' lives and she asks him to go straight. Written by
Jon C. Hopwood
Stephen Sondheim picked this movie as the initial film on his special night as the Turner Classic Movies programmer, March 22, 2005. The cable network TCM was honoring him on his 75th birthday. See more »
F.R. Franklin aka Frank:
[to Chandra Chandler as he's being led away to prison to serve a 2-10 year sentence]
It sure is tough to be going away just when beer is coming back.
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St. Louis Blues
Music by W.C. Handy
Played by the band at the hair tonic segment at the beginning See more »
Excellent performances highlight this Warner drama about a con man (Warren William) and his assistant (Allen Jenkins) who travel town to town with a circus doing various acts to bring in money. They then notice that the mind reader gag will bring in the most and soon the alias "Chandra" starts pulling people in but there's going to be a price to pay. I had heard so many positive things about this movie that it quickly became one that I searched out and thankfully got to see due to a recent TCM showing. Fans of classic cinema should certainly keep their eyes open for this one as it lives up to its reputation and also delivers some incredible performances. The film is pretty much divided into two halves with the first one dealing with various cons being performed by William. I found all of these games to be incredibly entertaining due in large part to William being able to push them over. It's very important that we believe these cons could actually be pushed over on people and William is so good here that it's never a problem. He slides into this role and never looks back and there's no a single frame in the film where we don't believe what he's doing and saying. Constance Cummings plays the woman he eventually falls in love with and the two share some great moments together and really make their love story believable. The underrated Jenkins does a very good job as well as he has several nice comic moments. The biggest surprise comes from future Bogart wife Mayo Methot who nearly steals the film as a young woman who is given bad advice and comes to let William know about it. I won't spoil what happens but it's pretty unforgettable and she really nails the part. I think the film begins to lose some of its power during the final twenty-five minutes with the last scam starts to be too big and of course there's going to be a moral lesson to pay. Up until then the film is extremely fast, fun and most important features some terrific acting. This film certainly deserves to be better known and hopefully TCM will start to show it more often.
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