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W.S. Van Dyke
Vivian, Ed and Harry steal jewels in Paris. In New York government agent McBride accompanies Vivian riding across the country with the loot. She falls in love with him and gives up crime; he finds the stash and arrests her. Rival crooks Doc and Steve, who had already stolen the stolen jewels once, attempt to take them once again. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
MGM Studio execs. may have have wondered whether Director Sam Wood wasn't taking something of a risk when he hired Spencer Tracy (recently released by Fox, and known primarily for his action-packed B films) to play a tough-guy romantic lead in "Whipsaw" opposite Myrna Loy (fresh off a big success the previous year in "The Thin Man") but Wood knew what he was doing. The result is excellent. Tracy and Loy have terrific screen chemistry together in this 1935 cops-and-robbers movie. It doesn't even matter that the plot isn't particularly fresh, or that the dialogue doesn't always sparkle; the pleasure to be had in "Whipsaw" lies in watching these two screen pros slowly build a portrait of completely disparate characters who overcome their prejudices and their "better" judgments and fall in love. Since Spencer Tracy always played Spencer Tracy (no matter who the character he was portraying may have been) Myrna Loy had the more difficult transformation to accomplish here, and she comes up aces. Her performance is nuanced and understated and she's an elegant, intelligent foil to Tracy's more down-to-earth, beefy, good-guy persona. There's fine supporting work, too, from the secondary characters with John Qualen taking standout honors as a mild-mannered Midwestern farmer; and appropriately "noirish" cinematography from James Wong Howe. But the real story here is the performance by Loy and Tracy. In the flood of terrific movies that the '30's gave to us, "Whipsaw" is often overlooked. It shouldn't be.
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