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Saturday, May 24, 2008

LIFE BEGINS AT FORTY (1935)

This is a typically winning Will Rogers' slice of Americana. It finds the great man running a small town newspaper and having to fight the worst instincts of the ‘better sort’ of citizens when he hires a young man just out of prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Richard Cromwell is wonderfully touching in this surrogate son role and the whole cast take turns being funny & believable. Solid megger George Marshall gets to show off the surprisingly large range Rogers had developed as a performer. His old vaudeville roots serve him well as he deftly triple-flips flapjacks and gleefully sings a sweet & high duet w/ Jane Darwell. Marshall keeps things moving at a reasonable pace while Lamar Trotti’s script takes an unexpectedly dark look at the heart of small town America. Hurrah for Fox for finally getting some of their Will Rogers product spiffed up & out of storage.

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