To escape sinful impulses, Ben Harvey, a callow youth, leaves his small town for Chicago in 1910. A pickpocket promptly relieves him of his money, and he nearly starves before Queen Lil ... See full summary »
To escape sinful impulses, Ben Harvey, a callow youth, leaves his small town for Chicago in 1910. A pickpocket promptly relieves him of his money, and he nearly starves before Queen Lil takes him under her wing, gives him a room in her high-class bordello, and gets him a job at a newspaper. He's so sweet and dumb, he thinks Lil's is a boarding house. He's soon caught up in an electoral struggle between a secretly corrupt reformer and an openly corrupt councilman. Can Ben expose corruption or will he be caught up in allure of power? An alcoholic investigative reporter and the bordello's ingénue try to help him grow up. Written by
[about why Ben is comatose]
I can't understand it. Medically, I can't understand one bit.
Well, his juices are all dammed up.
[covering young Virgil's ears]
That's all that's wrong with him, his juices are all dammed up.
Oh, how do you expect to raise a boy when his juices all dammed up, and get a man?
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I originally saw this atmospheric turn-of-the-century comedy in the theaters in 1969, and recently saw it during the wee hours on a cable station. It still is charming and a lot of fun. Hume Cronyn is a standout in a key supporting role as a crooked politician. George Kennedy supplies a marvelous counterpoint to Bridges' wide-eyed male inguenue. And Margot Kidder nearly steals the film in her film debut as the prostitute who guides Bridges on his journey to manhood.
FYI -- another reviewer mistakenly referred to this as Beau Bridges' first movie, but he was only 20 years off. As a juvenile Bridges appeaed in 3 films -- most notably The Red Pony. As a teen, he was marvelous in the Explosive Generation as high school sex-ed teacher William Shatner's classroom nemesis. In 1967, he was riveting as the crippled hero in Larry Peerce's classic, The Incident.
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