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Bullets for O'Hara (1941)
** (out of 4)
Low-budget crime picture from Warner has a jewel thief (Anthony Quinn) getting away with his crime but a detective (Roger Pryor) nabs his wife (Joan Perry). The wife claims she didn't know what the husband was really up to so after she's granted a divorce, she marries the detective so that the ex will come after them. BULLETS FOR O'HARA is a very silly movie that doesn't have much going for it so it's only going to appeal to those "B" movie fans who enjoy watching these things that usually turn up on Turner Classic Movies just before dawn. At just 50-minutes the shocking thing is that the film runs way too long. Yes, even this short running time manages to be quite slow and at around the thirty-minute mark it was clear that the film was going nowhere. The story itself is pretty silly because you have to wonder why the jewel thief really cared since he jumped ship on the wife, didn't check on her during an entire trial and then decides to walk into a trap months later. It was also funny to see the thief getting himself in good with the people he's going to rob, which isn't something you normally saw in crime pictures like this. Both Perry and Pryor are decent in their roles but neither one of them really jumps off the screen. Quinn is good in his early role as the thief but sadly he isn't given too much time. Dick Purcell has a small supporting bit as a chauffeur. BULLETS FOR O'HARA is certainly a miss that's going to have a limited appeal.
When Warner Brothers first did this story as Public Enemy's Wife I said
it was mediocre, but the cast somehow put it over. I'm here to tell you
that it didn't improve with five years of aging.
In fact, but for the presence of Anthony Quinn as the public enemy this film would truly be in the dustbin of cinematic history. Quinn is quite the charmer and after a whirlwind courtship he marries Joan Perry. He passes himself off as a Brahmin blue blood from Boston if you can believe that. And he'll be going back to work soon.
But work is that of a society thief and he robs Richard Ainley and Maris Wrixson the folks who have been hospitable to him. Only then does Joan realize what she's married.
Quinn has to bail on her when the cops are closing in, but he says don't be thinking about leaving him, she's his forever. I mean really, if he wants another woman as a blind front there are plenty around whom he could charm into it.
And what does Perry do, but marry Roger Pryor the cop who nabbed her and just missed nabbing Quinn. He figures Quinn will come after her which the dope does of course.
It was claptrap before and it's still claptrap.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
All the studios made B-movies in the 1930s and 40s--not just the tiny
independent studios. And while the Bs of studios like MGM and Warner
Brothers were generally higher quality than their low-rent rivals, even
these biggies could occasionally make a terrible quality B--and
"Bullets for O'Hara" is a truly awful film.
Unknowns Joan Perry and Roger Pryor star in this film. While Perry is okay, Pryor has about as much charisma as a cane toad--and seeing him in the virile male lead seemed strange. The only big-name was Anthony Quinn--when he was still a small-time supporting actor. Unfortunately, Quinn and the rest are given absolutely nothing to work with as the script is just crap. It rarely makes sense and the dialog is awful--and I assume the film was written by a team of chimps.
The film begins with Perry and Quinn playing a happily married couple living among the jet-set. However, after spending a lovely weekend with friends, Quinn, out of the blue, pulls out a gun and robs the folks who invited them. Now this is NOT what you'd call subtle nor a crime you could easily get away with considering everything! And, oddly, apparently after being married a year, Perry had no idea her husband was a mobster!!! Talk about absurd. But what is even more absurd is what happens next. She helps lure her husband out of hiding for the district attorney by agreeing to divorce Quinn and marry the DA!!! And, without thinking, the wedding is REAL--and they REALLY ARE MARRIED!!!! Duh!!! And, by the end of the film, Perry and Pryor (who'd disliked each other through the film) decide to stay married!!! On what planet does ANY of this make sense? And the studio actually paid for this terrible and stupid script?! Dumb, unbelievable and dull--this is the trifecta of badness! Apparently Warner, in a pinch, could make a god-awful film!
Anthony Hopkins tells the story of working with Katherine Hepburn on A
LION IN WINTER, how she said "Don't speak the line, just say it." In
this largely uninteresting second feature -- or third feature, we see
evidence that advice is good advice. Almost everyone speaks their lines
portentously, in an effort to give them weight and importance. Only
third-billed Anthony Quinn just says his lines, as if they had just
occurred to him, and he is present in the moment and much more
intelligent in presentation than everyone else. He steals the show from
first-billed Joan Perry and eponymous, second-billed Roger Pryor.
I cannot recommend this movie particularly, but if you feel a need to see it, you'll enjoy it for Quinn.
Extremely Short (50 min.) This WB Programmer is Full of Fancy Chases,
Fights, and Gunplay and has Just Enough Energy to Make it Worth a
Watch, but is Ultimately Let Down by a Horrendous and Hokey Script.
The Cast, Except an Oily and Handsome Anthony Quinn are Awful and when the Bad Acting is Topped with Ridiculous Plot Contrivances and Dialog the Film is in Danger of Becoming an Absolute Atrocity.
But it Moves Along at a Typical Rapid-Fire Pace that the Studio Could Do With a Minimum of Effort and In the End it is Fun Getting There but is Frequently Laughable and Absurd. Not Much Worth Recommending Except Quinn, the Short Running Time, and the Slick Warner's Action.
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