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Just before Christmas, Joe Miracle, a returning WWII war hero, comes home to learn that gangster Barney Teener has taken over his nightclub and murdered Joe's partner. Joe loots the club's safe for $100,000 and then finds sanctuary in a settlement house ran by Jenny Jones. Mistaking him for a down-and-out musician, she helps him understand the importance of her work. "Early" Byrd, a newspaper columnist, learns Joe's true identity and writes a column that puts Barney on his trail. The gangsters recover the money, after setting fire to the settlement house, but Joe steals it again, and returns to the gutted welfare house disguised as Santa Claus, and gives the money to Jenny to rebuild. There, Tenner and his gang catch up to Joe. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Glenn Ford comfortably yet weirdly shifts between film-noir and comedy
Here is a strange movie. Depending on what part you are tuned into, you may be watching a gangster movie with vintage Depression-era wise-guy chatter, or a heart-touching true-meaning-of-Christmas film, or a comic variation on a "Crazy House"-type theme, featuring scenes with eccentric characters pontificating weirdly. Then I saw that there were two directors, so maybe that is why the film shifts so much.
Not that it is bad. On the contrary, "Mr. Soft Touch" is quite an entertaining movie, with a fast-paced script that barely ever pauses to catch its breath. The reason this film works for me is that Glenn Ford so easily slides from film-noir to romance to comedy and back and forth again. A very interesting role for Glenn, perhaps inadvertently given a chance here to show how versatile he could be.
Evelyn Keyes plays an interesting character as well. It is unusual for a film made in what was still the 1940's to feature a character who so openly refers to, and sometimes uses manipulatively, a handicap such as deafness; the references to the hearing aid may make a modern viewer a little uncomfortable.
The only character who seems out of place is John Irelands's crusading reporter. He wears a pair of dark-framed, "please don't hit me" glasses, which don't seem right for some reason. His character is perhaps a good guy, perhaps not; we never really find out, and in the end, neither we nor the directors seemed to care. Just not sure how he really fits in.
From a social standpoint, "Mr. Soft Touch" presents an up-close and intimate look at private charity in the days before the government took over that role. We get a chance to spend quality time with those caring souls who fought tirelessly against an endless shortage of money and supplies, and who believed that it was worth helping people, even if it was only one person at a time. No one in this movie whines about getting a check from the government.
The bottom line, then, is that you have a film that is part "Little Caesar", part "Its a Wonderful Life", part "Bowery Boys", and part "You Can't Take it with You". If you accept the genre-changes that occur haphazardly throughout the film as all part of the fun, then you can have yourself an enjoyable hour and a half in the company of "Mr. Soft Touch".
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