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Navy Lt. Richard Perry becomes an undercover man out to discover the leaders of a group of well connected men who pull off bank robberies during the McKinley administration (early 20th century). Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
1937's "This is My Affair" could have been better but as it is, barely gets by. Robert Taylor stars as a Navy lieutenant who is asked by President McKinley to get the name of the men robbing banks all over the country, and his mission is to be kept secret between the two of them. Taylor infiltrates the gang by becoming a criminal himself. He meets the dumb, big practical joker (Victor McLaglen) and the brains (Brian Donlevy) - but there's a head name, whose name he can't get. McLaglen has it bad for Donlevy's half-sister, a saloon singer (Stanwyck) with whom Taylor falls in love. By the way, this film was made before Taylor and Stanwyck were married. Of course, who cares, now they've been outed as gay along with the rest of Hollywood.
The premise isn't bad if you can suspend your imagination, and the end is fairly tense, but "This is My Affair" just isn't a well-made or well-thought out film. First of all, Stanwyck was one of the most versatile and multi-talented actresses in Hollywood, but singing wasn't her greatest talent. In fact, she couldn't sing, with the exception of "Take it Off the E String (Play it on the G String) in "Lady of Burlesque" and a little number in "Banjo on my Knee" that can't count as singing. Her outfits were from the Mae West School of Design and overpowered her tiny frame.
Then there is the awful scene with Theodore Roosevelt where he invents the phrase, "Speak softly but carry a big stick" - embarrassing. Taylor slugs through it professionally, but why did makeup people always slather so much pancake and eye shadow on him? This is a 20th Century Fox film, by the way, not MGM, Taylor's usual studio, but MGM did it too. Fox never made Tyrone Power up like that with the exception of "Lloyds of London." Taylor was a handsome, rugged man. I guess they couldn't leave his face alone. Victor McLaglen isn't very good, but Donlevy, in a usual-type role for him, does a good job.
As far as Stanwyck and Taylor being married in real life, let me just state a few things: Stanwyck was totally devastated when Taylor left her for Ursula Theiss. When he tried to divorce her for Lana Turner, Stanwyck never spoke to Turner again. In fact, they were once in the same hotel, and Lana called her, only to get the sound of a receiver crashing down in her ear. In 1950, during the filming of Quo Vadis, she arrived in Italy to find Taylor cheating on her with one of the females involved in the film. She called a producer sobbing, "My marriage is over." Now we find out they were both gay - not bisexual, mind you, but gay, their marriage nothing but an arrangement. My advice: Take that info from whence it comes and remember this - once you're dead, anybody can write anything they want about you without fear of a lawsuit.
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