Former football star Harry Joplin is down on his luck, both in his career and in his married life. He seems convinced of his own unworthiness, but a chance to play in a charity football ... See full summary »
1942's "Northwest Rangers" was MGM's streamlined 'B' remake of their own "Manhattan Melodrama," with James Craig suitably cast as Clark Gable's Blackie, but William Lundigan a woeful replacement in the William Powell good guy part. The 1934 original ran a full 93 minutes, this programmer a meager 64, but its predictability is really an asset, the boyhood friends Jim and Blackie orphaned by an Indian attack, subsequently reared by dedicated Mountie Duncan Frazier (Jack Holt), who proves unable to curb Blackie's gambling ways, while inspiring Jim to follow in his law abiding footsteps. Best of all is John Carradine, cast in typical villainous mode as Martin Caswell, owner of notorious gambling den The Topaz, who makes the mistake of humiliating the young Blackie at the roulette wheel, only to have the adult Blackie return years later to claim The Topaz for his own by denying Caswell his cheating ways. Carradine's scene stealing work keep things from getting dull, though they do slow to a crawl whenever he's offscreen (the best 'honest' hand wins!). In only his third feature film, Keenan Wynn does very well as Blackie's fast talking accomplice, but leading lady Patricia Dane proves to be no match for Myrna Loy, quickly returning to obscurity after Abbott and Costello's "Rio Rita." Among the unbilled extras are several faces familiar on television decades later- Jim Davis (as a Mountie sharing a scene with Jack Holt), Hugh (LEAVE IT TO BEAVER) Beaumont (a Mountie opposite William Lundigan), and perennial Jewish mother Kay Medford, unaccountably young and pretty as the showgirl that first greets Blackie upon his return to The Topaz (she calls him 'Cookie!'). Carradine would later star opposite James Craig in 1969's "Bigfoot," and with Darryl Hickman, former co-star in "The Grapes of Wrath" (as the youngest Joad, Winfield), in a 1959 GUNSMOKE, "Target," cast as father and son.
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