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Wealthy Cynthia is in love with not-so-wealthy Roger, who is married to Marcia. The threesome is terribly modern about the situation, and Marcia will gladly divorce Roger if Cynthia agrees to a financial settlement. But Cynthia's wealth is in jeopardy because her trust fund will expire if she is not married by a certain date. To satisfy that condition, Cynthia arranges to marry Hagon Derk, who is condemned to die for a crime he didn't commit. She pays him so he can provide for his little sister. But at the last minute, Derk is freed when the true criminal is discovered. Expecting to be a rich widow, Cynthia finds herself married to a man she doesn't know and doesn't want to.Written by
Cecil B. DeMille asked playwright John Howard Lawson to write the screenplay, but Lawson did not receive screen credit. Angered, Lawson returned to New York and became part of the Group Theater. He said, "We were determined we would not to return to Hollywood." See more »
Incredibly Entertaining No Matter How Wild It Gets
*** (out of 4)
Cecil B. DeMille's first talkie was the first of three pictures that the legendary director would make at MGM. The filthy rich Cynthia (Kay Johnson) needs to be married on her birthday or else she'll lose millions from her grandfather's will. The only problem is that her boyfriend (Conrad Nagel) is already married to a woman who doesn't mind her husband dating Cynthia but she refuses to marry him unless the money is right. On the other side of the tracks, convicted killer Hagon (Charles Bickford) is about to be put to death and offers his body for $10,000 so that his kid sister will be taken care of. Cynthia decides to marry the death row inmate so that she can be "married" on her birthday and since she'll be a widow soon after she can get back to her normal life. The only problem is that after the marriage the real killer comes forward and Hagon is set free.
Is that enough plot for you? DYNAMITE features enough plots for about ten different movies and everything I wrote above is just the opening forty-minutes and that leaves eighty-seven more minutes of craziness. This is without question an incredibly bizarre film but there's no question that it's highly entertaining on so many levels. One such level is that it's just downright nuts from start to finish and I just sat there watching it in a complete amazement that anyone could actually pull it off. DeMille proves what a genius he was by taking this outrageous stories and making them work. If any other director had tried this we'd laugh them right out of the theater. I'm not sure what DeMille's secrets were but he makes us care about the characters and their fate. It also doesn't hurt that we're given some excellent performances with Bickford leading the way as the tough coal miner. This is the type of role he could play in his sleep and he pulls it off wonderfully. Johnson is very believable and good in her part as is Nagel. Julia Faye plays his wife and we get supporting performances from Joel McCrea and William Holden.
DYNAMITE features some very campy moments including the scene where the killer confesses to the crime. I dare you not to laugh during this sequence. I also found it rather hilarious how casual the wife, her husband and the lover were at hanging out with each other. I think this threesome relationship is something that even Jerry Springer would roll his eyes at. Still, this is so entertaining that it really doesn't matter and it would make a great double feature with DeMille's other 1929 film, THE GODLESS GIRL.
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