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...because the villain is rather complex. Sonny Tufts plays war
correspondent Jim Duncan who, because he has lived through so many
deadly situations while at war, is celebrated by his small home town
when he returns from war.
I say this isn't a typical villainy tale, because although the fact that there is something wrong with Jim's moral compass is shown upfront -he gets train fare home by sleeping with a well off woman who thinks they are going to be married until he ditches her at the train station when he comes home - Jim just takes advantage of the weak nature of individual people. He doesn't ever don a mask and a gun and rob people outright. He just takes advantage of his heroic reputation, his good looks, and the fact that he is really a superior silver tongued devil. He sleeps with and seduces women - even one that is REALLY off limits - because they let themselves believe his lies. He doesn't force anyone to gamble with him, but he does tempt them with chances of making more money. Jim doesn't cheat, and sometimes he loses. The thing is, it doesn't matter to him if he loses - money comes and money goes for Jim - but it does make a difference in the budgets of the family men whom he gambles with if they lose.
And this film is rather gray in the fact that it is left open as to whether or not nurture or nature made Jim the way that he is by the fact that his own mother repeatedly rejects him and asks him to leave town before he hurts anybody and that he is no good just like his father was no good and that he never will be.
But Jim does have a soft spot for one person and that soft spot turns out to be his undoing. Who do I mean and what do I mean by undoing? Watch and find out.
I found this film interesting because just one year after the war is over, it takes a look around at small town American life, the kind of towns that our soldiers were fighting for, and admits that neither the people back home whom the soldiers were fighting for nor the soldiers that were fighting were perfect - we all have all our faults. It also shows that even the worst of us can sum up the courage to do the right thing under certain circumstances. Highly recommended and very unconventional.
As reported in the March 1969 issue of the Chesapeake and Ohio Newsletter (now the C&O Historical Magazine, published by the C&O Historical Society), "Swell Guy" held its world premier on the railroad's top train, The George Washington, on Jan. 6, 1947 -- becoming the first film ever to be shown on a train. Ann Blyth joined the C&O president at the showing, which converted a diner into a movie theatre and inaugurated "Chessie Theatre on the Rails", a joint venture between the railroad and Universal-International Pictures. The service continued until 1949, then was revised for 1965-1967. It is believe, the article noted, that no other rail service offered movies until Amtrak.
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