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Edwin L. Marin
some lively performances and some so-so musical acts
Frank Morgan gets mixed up in a "Washington Melodrama" in this 1941 film also starring Dan Dailey, Kent Taylor, and Ann Rutherford.
Morgan plays steel tycoon Calvin Claymore, who is preparing to go before Congress to champion his relief organization, which wants the U.S. to help the children who are starving overseas as a result of World War II. Since this film was released in 1941, we hadn't yet entered the war. He's got some opposition, including his daughter's fiancé, newspaper editor Hal (Kent Taylor). Calvin's family, daughter Laurie (Ann Rutherford) and wife (Fay Holden) are away for the summer, and he's terribly lonely.
He and a friend go to a nightclub, where he meets a showgirl, Mary (Anne Gwynne) whom he takes sightseeing and escorts around town. I think that's all there was to it - you know these old films, it's sometimes pretty obscure as to what's going on.
Anyway, when his family returns, Mary understands that he won't be seeing her. She then reveals something he's known all along: the whole meeting was a set-up by an entertainer at the club, Whit (Dan Dailey) but though she went out with Calvin, she didn't soak him for money as planned. After Calvin leaves, Mary finds an envelope from him with a letter and a bunch of money. She starts to run after him but is stopped by Whit. He wants the money; she wants to return it. The two fight and she is killed. This is going to cause some problems for poor Calvin.
When all is revealed, Laurie goes to work trying to find out the identity of the killer with the help of a reporter (Lee Bowman).
Solid movie, with a delightful performance by Ann Rutherford, who dons a French accent for part of the film, and an excellent one by Frank Morgan, in a different kind of role for him. Actors in those days were typecast by their studios and it's difficult to see them in other roles, and when you do, it's often a revelation. Morgan here shows he can hold down a lead and do serious roles - something he did early in his career before getting noticed in his usual type of part.
Lee Bowman is terrific as reporter Ronnie Colton - funny, smooth, and charming. A leading man type with the soul of a character actor - good combo.
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