Ed Beaumont is the personal friend, advisor and bodyguard to Paul Madvig, the political boss of a large city. When a mysterious murder is committed---the son of a Madvig political opponent-... See full summary »
Jennie Gerhardt is a 1933 American Pre-Code drama film directed by Marion Gering for Paramount Pictures. It stars Sylvia Sidney, Mary Astor, and Edward Arnold. The film is based on the 1911 novel Jennie Gerhardt by Theodore Dreiser.
An altruistic department-store owner hires ex-convicts in order to give them a second chance at life. Unfortunately, one of the convicts he hires recruits two of his fellow ex-convicts in a plan to rob the store.
"In the Gay Nineties New York had grown up into bustles and balloon Sleeves ... but The Bowery had grown younger, louder and more rowdy until it was known as the 'Livest Mile on the face of... See full summary »
I enjoyed 'Pick-Up', but there were quite a few obstacles along the way. Sylvia Sidney plays a woman who's just being released from prison after a two-year sentence, but in the opening scene (in the prison governor's office) she's wearing elaborate makeup and her eyebrows are tweezed. In a supporting role, Lilian Bond's cut-glass British accent is distracting; an American actress should have been cast. Speaking of accents: Sylvia Sidney's honking Bronx accent is even more unpleasant than usual in this movie. Louise Beavers is stuck in her usual chucklin' maid role (cried Magnolia, this time), and the minstrel-show dialogue she's given here is even worse than usual. Learning that Sidney has been using a false identity, Beavers asks George Raft: 'Is you knowed she ain't she? She ain't HER?' Yassum!
The biggest flaw in 'Pick-Up' is that the relationship between Sidney's and Raft's characters here anticipates their very similar relationship in a vastly better, later film: Fritz Lang's 'You and Me'. In both films, Sidney plays an ex-convict who is in love with Raft, but who lies to him about her past and her marital status.
The soundtrack keeps playing overly-orchestrated background music at inappropriate moments. And there's a really weird scene at a 'kid party' thrown by Lilian Bond's playgirl character, which the guests -- all of them white, of course -- attend while dressed as very young children or babies. (They're waited upon by black women dressed as nursemaids.) I found it damned strange to watch several shapely young women cavorting in skimpy baby-girl outfits, escorted by men in nappies and bibs ... and I also wondered how all these idle rich people just happened to possess baby costumes that fit them. (I also wondered how badly the black women needed the money, that they'd be willing to humiliate themselves by nannying a bunch of spoilt adults.) Elsewhere, Charles Middleton makes a brief appearance ... though Middleton's fans may be disappointed that he plays a pleasant guy who's actually helpful for once.
SPOILERS COMING. Raft, in patent-leather hair, plays a studly cab driver: several women in this movie make admiring comments about his manliness. He and Sidney 'meet cute' in circumstances which convince him she's a streetwalker. They develop a plausible but unusual relationship, eventually becoming flatmates and apparently lovers, though this pre-Code film is careful to establish that they sleep in separate beds. Raft offers to marry Sidney, but she tells him she's already got a husband. She doesn't let on that he's William Harrigan, doing time for aggravated manslaughter. Then Harrigan shows up, claiming he's out on parole but brandishing a handgun. The handgun is a revolver, but it's also an automatic ... an automatic parole violation. Except that Harrigan is on DIY parole: he broke out on the lam.
Intriguingly and atypically, Raft here plays a man with no ambition at all, who gradually betters himself only because Sidney -- the woman behind the man -- keeps pushing him to take chances. When Sidney gets arrested and put on trial for murder, Raft -- even though he no longer loves her -- unhesitatingly gives up all his possessions (which he accumulated only through Sidney's guidance) to buy her the best legal defence. The film ends with Sidney acquitted, and with Raft worse off than when Sidney first met him: he started out broke; now he's skint and in debt. But the last scene is deeply touching, with some of Raft's best acting ever, and I'll rate this movie 7 out of 10.
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