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Before watching It Had To Happen I read the biography of George Raft, The George Raft File by James Robert Parrish. When discussing this film he compared it to a Horatio Alger story. Then after seeing it, by God it was a Horatio Alger story.
Back in the latter half of the 19th century those stories were popular fiction. It was a poor boy by hard work and a break by some older established man was able to make a success of himself and become rich. It certainly enforced the notion of America being the land of opportunity.
Raft and his sidekick Leo Carrillo arrive as immigrants from Italy, Raft with barely a trace of accent if any. Through an incident while they're earning a living as ditch diggers Raft comes to the attention of the Mayor of the city. He takes Raft into a menial job on the city payroll. Five years later Raft's a political figure, a ward boss responsible for the welfare of his district.
Raft also is carrying a Statue of Liberty size torch for rich society girl Rosalind Russell who is slightly married to Alan Dinehart. But Raft has ambitions.
Both stars were on loan to the newly formed 20th Century Fox Studio, Raft from Paramount and Russell from MGM. This is hardly a major picture for either of them. Russell barely shows a trace of the personality she burst forth with in films like Four's A Crowd, The Women and His Girl Friday all coming up in a few years.
Raft was somewhat more animated than usual, but he definitely had no gift for comedy at all. That is on film. Russell recalls in her memoirs that she made a sports wager with Raft and he lost. Raft paid her off with a few sacks of pennies.
How Cary Grant would have handled that on screen.
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