Although Charley Kying has owned a casino for fifteen years, on one rainy night events and people seem to converge and threaten his family home and second home, his gambling house. After a doctor secretly diagnoses him with a severe heart condition and recommends that if he continues to subject himself to the daily stress of a professional gambler, he hasn't long to live. Later that day he's made to realize that he's been neglecting his faithful wife for years and abdicated his duties as father to his son, who resents his father's unsavory reputation and rebuffs his interest in attending that night's prom. Charley's weakling brother-in-law, who sponges off him by freeloading at home and cheating him out of petty cash as croupier, agrees to conspire with rival gamblers to cheat Charley out of thousands. Among the others who add stress to what would seem to be Charley's last night in the casino are a rich former girlfriend who proposes they renew their relationship, an old nemesis who's... Written by
Not a great film but a very entertaining one with some wonderful performances from a cast of pros.
Gable holds the spotlight effortlessly as the gambling house owner at a crossroads ably assisted by some of the best character actors working at MGM at the time. Used as both a launching pad for some actors just starting out, Wendell Corey and Barry Sullivan, and a chance to see many wonderful character actors with years of experience, Lewis Stone, Frank Morgan etc. all get their moment in the spotlight.
It's hard to pick best in show with so many marvelous players but some that stand out are: Mary Astor is a nice cameo as a lonely woman with a longstanding yen for Clark who through the years has settled for friendship. Both Stone and Morgan add pathos to their individual roles as does Audrey Totter as Alexis Smith's worn down sister. Marjorie Rambeau is an absolute joy as a rambunctious dowager who swoops right in and steals her scenes without breaking a sweat. Lastly Alexis Smith who often was wasted in decorative roles bites into her role as Gable's tough wife. She initially seems a complacent and docile homebody but when the chips are down she emerges as somewhat of a tigress in a terrific performance.
As might be apparent from the long list of excellent work turned in, the film has many plot lines; really too many and that's its main weakness. Director Mervyn LeRoy juggles all the various happenings effectively but a bit of trimming would have sharpened the film's focus.
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