Fisherman Dutch marries cannery worker Hattie. He quits his poorly paid job to concentrate on getting better working conditions as union leader. Unfortunately, the union members disagree ... See full summary »
Fisherman Dutch marries cannery worker Hattie. He quits his poorly paid job to concentrate on getting better working conditions as union leader. Unfortunately, the union members disagree with Dutch's ideas and kick him out. Without a job or union card to get another he leaves Hattie to look for work. Hattiee steals money to help him when she learns he is really down on his luck and she goes to jail. He gets a new job, foils a plot to dynamite the ship, and promises to wait for Hattie. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A charge of negligence was brought against MGM by the California State Industrial Welfare Committee on behalf of the 40 female extras who were drenched in the prison rainstorm sequence. It contended that women who lost work because of illness after that sequence should be compensated. Each of the extras received an extra $15 as an initial compensation. See more »
"Riffraff" stars Spencer Tracy in an odd role for him and the lovely Jean Harlow as his wife in a story involving the tuna fishermen set, unions, prison, hobos and the like. It's a true potboiler with Harriet (Harlow) sacrificing everything for her man, an egotistical, bombastic fellow named Rudolph Muller. He's determined to make good but his stubbornness and big mouth get in the way.
Tracy is ill-suited for this role, though at the time, he was mainly playing character roles, and this certainly is one. But the actor comes off as too smart to be playing such a dumb lug. A year later, his stock at MGM would begin to rise, and he would transition out of this type of role into leading man parts as Bogart did. Tracy is much better in the second part of the film, where he's called upon to show his emotive range, than in the first part where his character is established.
Though Harlow plays a cannery worker turned wife, she still gets to be glamorous in a couple of scenes where the big boss, Nick (Joseph Calleia) takes her out. Harlow comes off tough and streetwise enough to be right for the role, and she does it well. Actually, she seems more comfortable than Tracy. MGM at that point was trying to expand the range of this incredibly popular actress. The film was made in 1935, and of course, by 1937 she would be dead, but not before doing another -- and far superior - film with Tracy, "Libeled Lady." All in all, there's nothing special about "Riffraff" except the two stars, but Tracy and Harlow were always special, so it's worth a look.
8 of 10 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?