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Joseph H. Lewis
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>
The ingredients are all there for a superb Christmas holiday classic, but Mr. Soft Touch somehow fails to measure up. It could be because two directors with two different visions if any, Gordon Douglas and Henry Levin got assigned to this film from Columbia.
The film starts out with the same premise as Angels With Dirty Faces. Glenn Ford is a former nightclub owner who while serving in World War II was done out of his share of the club by the mob. Unlike James Cagney who expected to move back into partnership with Humphrey Bogart and George Bancroft, Ford's a bit more realistic than that. He just robs the place and he's got both the law and Ted DeCorsia and assorted hoods looking for him.
Circumstances manage to place Ford in a settlement house in San Francisco where Evelyn Keyes takes an interest in him. He actually starts to help out around the place and spreads just a bit of that hundred grand he robbed from the mob. But Keyes who can't help falling for Glenn and her boss Beulah Bondi know he's trouble.
Mr. Soft Touch is not a bad film, but it could have been a holiday classic, it goes wide of the mark with some bad direction. Or maybe no direction, could happen with two directors. The most interesting character in the film is John Ireland who plays a sleazy tabloid columnist, but a man with an impeccable nose for news and trouble.
Glenn Ford's fans should like Mr. Soft Touch and Evelyn Keyes is absolutely radiant as the social worker. They teamed a few times as well for Columbia, but never got the acclaim that Ford did with Rita Hayworth in Gilda. Of course Mr. Soft Touch isn't Gilda.
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