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Henry B. Walthall
Polio breaks out in Rio de Janeiro, the serum is in Santiago and there's only one way to get the medicine where it's desperately needed: flown in by daring pilots who risk the treacherous weather and forbidding peaks of the Andes.
This film, shown on cable recently, was a discovery. In only 76 minutes, this delicious comedy packs much more than lengthier ones. This is a tribute to the man in charge of it, Allan Dawn, who combines the right elements to give us this fabulous trans Atlantic voyage.
We are introduced to the main characters, Jeannette Foster and John Francis Dugan, traveling second class in a luxury liner. Dugan knows he can sneak into first class and takes Jeanette with him. John Dugan is a professional gambler that made his living out of these ships playing with the wealthy passengers. Jeanette is an actress returning home.
We also meet an assortment of the passengers in the upper deck. Among them, an immature playboy, Fred Curtis, who has no luck gambling and is in debt to the mysterious and sophisticated Mrs. Bath, a rich woman who has stolen an expensive necklace from one a European royal just for the thrill of it. We also meet Col. Belcher and his friend and partner in gambling, Schmelling, a funny pair that will soon lose money to Dugan, who knows more about the game.
The surprise comes from watching a splendid comedic turn by Claire Trevor, who we have seen in a lot of heavier roles. In this picture she clearly demonstrates she had a knack for playing a lighter fare. The movie also has an excellent performance from the great Edmund Lowe, an actor that was a pleasure to watch in everything he did.
In the smaller roles, the great Eugene Palette makes a great impression as Col. Belcher, a rich oil man returning from Europe. Adrienne Ames, was also good as the sophisticated Mrs. Bath. She plays this woman with great panache. Tom Brown, as the young Fred Curtis, makes a good contribution to the film.
The ensemble work that Allan Dawn got from all the major players, as well as the rest of the crew makes "Black Sheep" a delight to watch. The fantastic crossing of the Atlantic in the era of the luxury ships will enchant anyone looking for a carefree time at the movies.
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