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Successful wealthy shoe manufacturer John Reeves takes a vacation leaving his business in the hands of his nephew. While on vacation Reeves runs into his rivals heirs who are living it up on their dead father's money. He doesn't tell them who he is and gets placed as their trustee. He uses the chance to reorganize their shoe company, becoming a rival for his own nephew. The ne'er-do-wells settle down and become involved in the business. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
Extremely far-fetched but entertaining tale of a millionaire shoe maker (George Arliss) who decides to go work undercover at his rival's shoe factory. He wants to see if his nephew can really take care of the business but while undercover he begins to feel for the kids (Bette Davis, Theodore Newton) of the other shoe owner so he wants to teach them how to properly run a business even if that means he's going against his own. THE WORKING MAN has a very stupid story and I think the ending is pretty silly but at the same time Arliss is just so wonderful in the leading part that you can overlook the flaws with the story. I'm really not sure what the goal of the film was as it could have been to show young people what hard work is all about but it might also just be a story about one man caring for other people when he doesn't have any kids of his own. The story is very far-fetched but at the same time you can't help but enjoy watching Arliss play both sides against one another and in the end making everyone see what the most important things are. Needless to say, it's Arliss that steals the film with a remarkable and rather restrained performance. I really enjoyed how good Arliss was in regards to everything that the role called for. At times he had to be a strong disciplinary while the next scene might call for him to be a loving father type. He has to scream and shout to get the business going but then be caring enough to do what's best for these kids. Arliss nailed everything the screenplay called for and this was certainly a role the actor did justice for. Davis was still making a mark for herself so one shouldn't come to this film and expect to see that classic Davis. With that said she's still quite good here as you have no problem believing her in the part. Newton, Gordon Westcott and Hardie Albright add some nice support and horror fans will be happy to see Edward Van Sloan in a small role. THE WORKING MAN is certainly a message movie but while that message might get lost in some of the wackiness of the screenplay, what does stand is the strong performance by Arliss and that's reason alone to check this film out.
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