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Thursday, June 5, 2008

TROUBLE ALONG THE WAY (1953)

After churning out masterful pics in a variety of genres, from Woman’s Pics to Swashbucklers to Westerns, Musicals, Horrors & CASABLANCA, Michael Curtiz wrapped up his Warner Bros. contract with this sentimental story about a struggling Catholic university and a disgraced football coach. No doubt everyone had GOING MY WAY in mind, with John Wayne & Charles Coburn uncomfortably making like Bing Crosby & Barry Fitzgerald, respectively. Since Wayne’s a coach instead of a priest, he gets a cute little daughter (the dreadful Sherry Jackson), a scary ex-wife (the alarming Marie Windsor) and a virginal social worker (poor Donna Reed) to play off of. In a weirdly developed storyline, Wayne cheats to bring in his winning team and Coburn admits defeat, yet this sobering bit of reality in the last two reels feels every bit as fraudulent as the happy ending we'd been expecting. One of the Duke’s odder outings.

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