Tag Archives: edward brophy

Looking Backward: Larceny, Inc. (1942)

21 Jul

larcenyincLike Rififi, except with all the bleakness and ennui replaced with Wacky, Larceny, Inc. was a fun little fluffball. But plot machinations are no fun to recapitulate, so let’s talk abot

The Warner Brothers character actor bench was bottomless, wasn’t it?* And in the studio system’s glory days, one week’s major supporting role was next week’s glorified walk-on.

Exempla gratis: the fellow Robinson buys the luggage shop, who summarily disappears, are Harry Davenport (to me, Merle Oberon’s gleefully wicked uncle in The Cowboy and the Lady, but also a director of early silents, Dr. Meade in Gone With the Wind, Mr. Dr.Barnes in Little Women (1949) and a plethora of Judges (Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer) and Grandpas (Meet Me in St. Louis).

The minor role of nearby merchant Sam Bacharach went to John Qualen, already playing an old man before he had even had a chance to talk in an extravagant Swedish accent in random Westerns, sea adventures, and of course His Girl Friday, The Grapes of Wrath, The Seventh Seal and Casablanca. Reasonable pedigree for a man who never was nor shall be a household name.

There’s even a tiny turn by a young Jackie Gleason doing a modified early version of a Joe the Bartender/Poor Soul amalgam. Young Jane Wyman. Young Anthony Quinn as a convict. Broderick Crawford as a lunkhead whose head keeps getting lunked. It’s packed, for a forgotten little bit of silliness.

And did I mention Edward Brophy?

edward-brophy-1-sizedOn another front, I don’t want to ruin something lovely by mentioning it in a way that will make it evident instead of seamless, but watch Edward G. Robinson’s, anytime but especially in comedy. The gestures are simultaneously a little clichéd and perfect. It’s also entirely possible that they only seem cliché because so many actors looked to Robinson for inspiration. The man is inarguably awfully good at his job.

Again, a relaxing fluffball, but one packed with quality people who did their jobs with clarity and precision. And also Jack Carson.

 

 

 

*Unless you count Jack Carson as the bottom. I’d hear that argument.

DVR Alert: Casablanca & All Through the Night (1942)

26 Jun

I’m going to go ahead and assume you’ve seen Casablanca, which seems safe. Always worth seeing again – though privately I’m glad it’s on at 3:00 a.m., when I first saw it. I love this era of twenty-four classics, but I do sort of miss the up-all-night-to-catch-the-good-ones days.

allthroughthenight13But That Movie will be followed by its perfect Vichy Waterwine/cheese pairing, All Through the Night (airing on TCM at 5:00 a.m. “tonight”), made the same year, also starring Humphrey Bogart and Conrad Veidt, and also featuring Peter Lorre. But with Phil Silvers added! Admit it: that’s what Casablanca was always missing.

It’s a lovely, goofily anti-Nazi comedy with a bunch of hoods fighting The Bad Guys, hoods including Frank McHugh, William Demarest, and Edward Brophy. Set that DVR, or stay up for it. Such a lot of fun – and not just frivolous fun: laughing at this movie is proven to defeat Nazis. So, you know…get involved.

Surprise Looking Backward: A Slight Case of Murder (1938)

11 Jun

slightcaseI am still of the unshakeable opinion that there are too few movies based on the work of Damon Runyon. I see on a list that there are twenty. That is not half enough. But A Slight Case of Murder is a heck of a one. Like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, but in a legal instead of a racial context.

These little flicks are not just for fun, you know. They provide an education. Here is an example:

Mrs. Marco (Ruth Donnelly) upbraids her husband’s employees when they do not talk genteel-like. One of them keeps saying “O.K.” Which is still, along with words like “job” and “kidding,”  low-end slang circa 1938.

Which is why it still grinds my gears when people (especially of the high-end sort) say “O.K.” in more recent period scripts and novels. The thing is called “research,” writer-types. Do some.

I know, I know; no one else is bothered by this. But as I say, it still grinds my gears.

PS – I was reassured to find that Margaret Hamilton’s character name is spelled “Cagle.” I am not equipped to think of her as “Mrs. Kegel.”

edward-brophy-02A Sonnet for Edward Brophy

Ahem.

Your squeaky voice spoke fluent Comic Foils

For gangsters’ pals, wisecracking bubble-bursters –

In Cover Girl your line “I don’t think poils

[spoken by Joe the barkeep] come from ersters,”

Still looms large in my brain’s repository

Of great words said by history’s great men,

And incomplete for me is any story

Without your shining pate and double chin.

Slugs, Lefty, Torso, Rollo, Joe Morelli

(Leave us neglect not  Timothy Q. Mouse)

Were made well-rounded roles by your round belly.

He who agrees not is a dirty louse.

Thank goodness Buster dragged you out of props

That you could give us years of yeggs and cops.

I thank you.