This is a very interesting, if ultimately disappointing, hybrid (straddling the A and B classifications) picture from Columbia. The story is about a troublesome lad (Reynolds) who is sponsored, as a political favor, by a senator (Marshall) as a Senate page boy. After some initial resentments, the boy begins to appreciate his position and is devastated when circumstances jeopardize his job. Herbert Marshall and Virginia Bruce are friendly enemies and they make a unique screen team. The film sports a wonderful supporting cast, with especially fine performances by Samuel S. Hinds and Vaughan Glaser. Columbia recycled many of the sets (office building; senate offices; senate chamber; committee room) constructed for MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON. Not to mention page boy Dickie Jones, who has matured enough to give a heartfelt speech near the climax of ADVENTURE IN WASHINGTON. Another recycled set is the newspaper city room from HIS GIRL Friday. Other page boys who get a chance to shine are Charles Smith and Tommy "Butch" Bond. The main problem with the picture is the script. There are a lot of holes and unresolved issues. The film was released in ten reels but runs 84 minutes. This is a sure sign that there was some cutting prior to release. Harry Cohn must have chased producer Charles Rogers off the lot with the way this one wound up. This should have been a 75 minute feature at best, with faster pacing and a clearer scenario. There is some odd padding, including a couple of scenes at a cheap bowling alley set. Still, there are many pluses and some fine speeches about responsibility and civic pride. Also, the "McGuffin" is about a senate appropriations bill being balanced between relief expenditures and armament. The picture was released in May of 1941. Had it been made after Pearl Harbor, the debate might not have been so measured. My 16mm print is one of the "Sahara Television" prints shorn of the original Columbia logos. I'm sure if the film makes it to TCM it will be from Columbia 35mm materials. Keep an eye out. It's worth watching even if, ultimately, a bit unsatisfying.
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