Big-time racketeer Martin Martin, on the eve of his projected move into New York politics, barely escapes the District Attorney's men who attempt to arrest him for a murder committed five-years earlier by Martin and his former partner Dane Cory. Martin, who knows that Cory has copped a plea with the D.A. to save himself, arranges a meeting. At the meeting, Cory's henchman, Cute Freddie, shoots Martin and the latter kills Freddie. Cory hides in the Greenwich Village apartment of his girl friend, burlesque queen Lily White. With them is Lily's six-year-old daughter, Elsie, and her dog Skipper. Martin trails Cory, but weakened by his bullet wound, is forced to seek refuge in an abandoned building next to Lily's. Bad-to-the-bone Cory kicks Skipper and the dog finds shelter with Martin, where Elsie finds them sleeping. Martin is charmed by Elsie and the dog, whom he names Johnny One-Eye, and takes the animal to a vet who can't help the dog but does take the bullet slug out of Martin. ...Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Despite the film's original storyline, director Robert Florey, who was well past his prime when this low-budget programmer was made, does injustice to a very original Damon Runyon's plot idea. An innocent but plucky young girl naively believes that a criminal fugitive (Pat O'Brien) who's hiding out in a deserted building in her neighborhood, is really Santa Claus. She keeps his presence secret and does her best to help him. Florey fills the story with bathos and saccharine sentimentality involving the title character, the girl's little dog, and the film ultimately becomes mired in its own mawkishness.
More than a decade later Bryan Forbes would direct a critically-acclaimed film based on a similar premise. In 1961's WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND, youngster Hayley Mills mistakenly believes fugitive wife-murderer Alan Bates, who is hiding out from the authorities in the barn on her father's isolated British farm, to be Jesus Christ. The tact and taste with which Forbes handles the material is a paradigm of understatement and restraint. Although Mary Hayley Bell's (mother of Hayley} narrative was lauded at the time for its great originality, the plot premise appears cribbed from this unpretentious Damon Runyon B-film programmer.
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