BLACKMAIL. 1939

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First question – what was Warners stalwart EDWARD G. ROBINSON doing in an MGM film which could have passed for a Warners drama.
Was his contract with Warners up, was he loaned out, was he freelancing? I don’t know.
Anyway, the sight of Eddie G.in John Wayne mode (cf HELLFIGHTERS) as a top oil fire fighter doesn’t quite work.
And the plot is pretty far fetched. – he’s top man in his field, with a pretty wife (RUTH HUSSEY,also miscast) and a son BOBS WATSON (who had to shed tears at least once in any of his films.)

The implausible background story is that Robinson is living under an assumed name because 9 years earlier he was convicted of a robbery he didn’t do and served time on a chain gang from which he escaped.
Now,GENE LOCKHART turns up,admitting it was he who did the robbery – he blackmails poor Robinson who ends up back on the chain gang – from which he escapes yet again!
The ending is quick and even more implausible.
Bad choice for Edward G.
I don’t even want to talk about GUINN WILLIAMS, in his usual role of sidekick – his humour escapes me.

6 responses »

  1. Vienna, I take your warning but I’d still like to see this, must admit, as I’m intrigued by the thought of such a different role for Eddie G and the oil firefighting plot sounds interesting. I’ll try not to expect too much, though!

  2. I loved this film and I think it is one of Robinson’s best movies. I have seen 65 of Robinson’s films. I just love the emotion in Robinson’s face especially at the end with the fire. Nobody poured out pure emotion better than EGR.

    If you want to see a better Robinson/Lockhart pairing, try The Sea Wolf, a great film.

  3. My EGR essentials:

    Little Caesar (1931) Five Star Final (1931) Dark Hazard (1934) The Whole Town’s Talking (1935) Barbary Coast (1935) Bullets or Ballots (1936) Kid Galahad (1937) The Last Gangster (1937) A Slight Case of Murder (1938) The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938) Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939) Blackmail (1939) Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet (1940) Brother Orchid (1940) A Dispatch from Reuter’s (1940) The Sea Wolf (1941) Manpower (1941) Larceny, Inc. (1942) Tales of Manhattan (1942) Mr. Winkle Goes to War (1944) Double Indemnity (1944) The Woman in the Window (1945) Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945) Scarlet Street (1945) The Stranger (1946) The Red House (1947) All My Sons (1948) Key Largo (1948) House of Strangers (1949) The Violent Men (1955) The Ten Commandments (1956) A Hole in the Head (1959) The Cincinnati Kid (1965)

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