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Thursday, June 5, 2008

TORRID ZONE (1940)


James Cagney & Pat O’Brien shine in this unofficial variant of THE FRONT PAGE. (Tough as nails boss tries to stop his best-bud employee from getting married & leaving him in the lurch.) O’Brien played the junior role of Hildy Johnson in the ‘31 film version, but finds a better fit in the boss's role, which is patterned on the editor, Walter Burns. We've left Chicago far behind in this Banana Republic dramedy stuffed w/ good lines, steamy studio atmosphere & the underappreciated Ann Sheridan, looking radiantly happy with her top-grade assignment. Warners tended to overcook their comic buddy/buddy pics (see Cagney & O’Brien in BOY MEETS GIRL/'38), but this one has a bit of M-G-M swank to it (think Gable, Tracy & Harlow) which tones everything up while retaining the filmic zest of a Warners product. Speaking of Gable, Cagney sports the nasty little moustache he grew whenever he was ticked off at Jack Warner. But you'll get used to it long before you swallow the idea of casting George Tobias & Steve Reeves as South of the Border types.

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