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Little Pinks is in love with a nightclub singer named Gloria. But it is a unrequited love as she does not know that he exists. Pinks is a shy busboy and Gloria only goes out with men who are loaded. When she tries to dump Case for richer Reed, Case dumps her down the stairs. After months of treatment, she will never walk, but Pinks is the only one who takes care of her. He pays all her bills and sends her flowers with unsigned cards. But to Gloria, he is nothing in her eyes. When she wants to leave New York for Florida, to be with the money set, he takes her. Written by
Tony Fontana <email@example.com>
Opening credits: "Loser's Lane --- the sidewalk in front of Mindy's Restaurant on Broadway-- is not as high-toned a trading center as Wall Street, but the brokers are a lot more colorful. Generally they prefer to put their money on a prizefight or horserace, but when the action slows, anything can happen and it usually does. Tonight, for example, the citizens of the Lane are discussing the latest contest in their usual quiet way --" See more »
...and that's not the movie's fault. Those who've panned The Big Street and this review say more about themselves than the movie.
Damon Runyon was a beloved chronicler of a microcosm that no longer exists - the street life of New York's Broadway district, during its heyday, when it was known as The Great White Way or The Big Street. You will never see characters like Runyon's anywhere else in literature or film. The closest are perhaps to be found in Dickens, say, the souls who populate the London of Mr. Pickwick.
Other comments, who have been put off by the dialog finding it saccharine or phony, don't understand the special language Runyon uses for his characters, the picaresque vernacular of the small-time Broadway hustlers, promoters, racetrack touts and "professors," whose schemes and rackets are cloaked with highfalutin patter.
Among the steady, low-level service people who interface with these demi-mondes is Little Pinks, "the best busboy in the whole wide world". Pinks (Henry Fonda), has a good heart and the misfortune of falling head-over-heels for a gangster's moll, played against type by Lucille Ball, who has none of the former (good heart) and plenty of the latter (misfortune). Devoted to a fault, Pinks acts as her guardian angel, from her pinnacle, all the way to her pitiful decline and fall. Director Irving Reis, knows how to keep his material from becoming mired in bathos by using Runyon's whimsy and humor and the most delightful character players in Hollywood, from Eugene Palette and Agnes Moorehead to Ray Collins, Louis Beavers and Hans Conried.
"The Big Street" faithfully recreates Runyon's world and its inhabitants. Like all of his stories, it is a parable, and like all parables it teaches a lesson. But the lesson is delivered gently, never preaching. The most moving moment comes in the final scene, at once tragic and triumphant. The tragedy is apparent. But the triumph, the triumph of love over all, is apparently lost on the idiots who have panned this gem.
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