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Robert B. Sinclair
To avoid a taxi war, city officials blame a gang bombing on driver Joe Benton's wife Anna and put her on a ship to deport her. The mayor is speaker at a boxers' banquet where Joe pleads for them to go with him to the wharf and rescue Anna (about to deliver their baby) from the ship. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
... declares Chevy Chase in a fake commercial in the first season of Saturday Night Live about some strange product that could be one of several things that nobody can identify. That sentiment applies to this film too. With Spencer Tracy and Luise Ranier in the lead as a cab driver husband and his foreign born and raised wife and the MGM trademark you'd be expecting a melodrama, but when it comes to director Frank Borzage, expect the unexpected.
The overall theme has to do with the war between a large cab company - Comet Cab - and the independent cab drivers in New York City. It's part tragedy in the willingness of city officials to deport an innocent alien girl (Ranier as Anna) without any real due process in order to avoid a controversy, part drama in the war between the cabbies and the conspiracy to hide Anna from the cops until six weeks expires and she becomes an American citizen, and part screwball comedy with a funny but rather pointless street brawl between all of the cabbies with some popular sports figures of the day (Jack Dempsey, Jim Thorpe, Bull Montana, Jack Jeffries and more) thrown into the fight for good measure as well as the chief of police, the district attorney and the mayor getting into the act. Actually the part about hiding Anna is partially played for laughs too, with the joke being on the hapless police always running in circles.
Then there's the bad guy, the muscle for Comet Cab Company who is willing to murder to keep his protection racket rolling who is played by - William Demarest??? Usually the comic relief or a harmless yet crusty fellow, you just know Borzage is playing the drama part of this tongue in cheek with this particular piece of casting. When Uncle Charlie of "My Three Sons" says "I'll rub you out if you talk" it's just hard to be too terribly afraid. All we need is baddie Barton McLane as a hairdresser to make the upside down casting and strange plot roadmap of this film complete.
One of the things Borzage did best was depict camaraderie and heroism, and here you see that in the independent cabbies and their wives who are willing to risk jail to keep Anna hidden from the police, and in Anna when she realizes that her presence among them is causing so much hardship for them.
Don't think I don't like this one - I do. Just sit back and enjoy whatever course of events you are presented and don't try to pigeon hole it or analyze it too much. From the first frame with cabbie Joe Benton attempting to "pick up" his own wife, to the end credits with the normally dignified MGM insignia that instead sports a hand-drawn lion's backside aimed at the audience, I've never seen anything quite like this from the movie factory era of MGM.
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