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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

THE MAN I LOVE (1947)


There’s enough plot for three films in this handsomely turned meller from vet helmer Raoul Walsh. Ida Lupino is a torchy jazz singer who takes a break from her regular NYC gig to visit the family out West. And what a mess she finds! One sister’s hubby is a shell-shocked vet in a sanatorium; another sits home all day and pines for the married man across the hall. Her kid brother hangs with a bad crowd; and the peroxide blond across the hall two-times her easy-going-hubby with the thuggish club-owner who hires Lupino to sing at his swanky joint when he’s not trying to paw her. Whew! And then she meets the man of her dreams, Bruce Bennett, a gifted jazz pianist so depressed by a flop marriage that he’s run off to a life at sea. Now add in a murder or two for relief. Amazingly, Lupino solves all these issues without breaking a sweat, then heads back to NYC when the winds change, like some jazz-baby Mary Poppins. It should all be ridiculous. Yet the concise script, Walsh’s moviemaking moxie & the black pools in Sid Hickox’s lensing make this tasty & almost believable. As the club-owner, Robert Alda is really too goonish (you can see why he never quite clicked in Hollywood), but Bruce Bennett shows tremendous chemistry with Lupino. Add in a stack of swinging jazz standards and you’ve got a real find.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Watch close at the end as Walsh nips from NOW, VOYAGER, CASABLANCA and STELLA DALLAS.

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