Friday, May 01, 2015

Tonight's Movie: Back in Circulation (1937)

Take Joan Blondell, Pat O'Brien, and a great supporting cast, put them in a newsroom and on the familiar streets of the Warner Bros. backlot, and you get the enjoyable BACK IN CIRCULATION (1937).

BACK IN CIRCULATION may not be any great shakes as movies go, but it's one of those films which fans of "old movies" like to have on the TV on a lazy afternoon, with lots of faces who feel like old friends going through their familiar paces.

Joan plays Timothea "Timmy" Blake, crack reporter for the Morning Express. Timmy's editor Bill Morgan (O'Brien) can always rely on Timmy to get the job done, whether it's working her way behind police lines at the scene of a train wreck or uncovering evidence that the wealthy older husband of lovely Arline Wade (Margaret Lindsay) was poisoned.

Movie newsrooms were nothing new for O'Brien, the star of THE FRONT PAGE (1931), but he's strictly in supporting mode here, as it's Joan's film all the way. She impersonates a doctor, seduces a slimy playboy, teases the pack of newsmen who follow in her wake, and displays a mean right hook which can knock a man cold. There's also a fun running gag about her constantly slamming the newsroom door.

Timmy's right-hand men are photographer Murphy (Eddie Acuff, later of the DR. KILDARE series) and newsman Buck (Regis Toomey). In a nice connection, Toomey would play Margaret Lindsay's husband nearly a decade later in HER SISTER'S SECRET (1946).

Look for Frank Faylen, Milton Kibbee (brother of Guy), and future PERRY MASON star William Hopper among the newsmen who are always just a bit late to the story. The cast also includes John Litel, Craig Reynolds, George E. Stone, Ben Welden, Granville Bates, and Edward Gargan (brother of William).

BACK IN CIRCULATION was directed by Ray Enright and filmed in black and white by Arthur L. Todd. The Warren Duff screenplay was based on a story by Adela Rogers St. Johns. The film runs 81 minutes.

BACK IN CIRCULATION is not on DVD -- perhaps it will turn up in the future from the Warner Archive -- but it's been shown on Turner Classic Movies. The trailer is available on the TCM website.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sounds fun especially with Joan as Timothea ( that's some name).
I love your description of 'the familiar streets of the Warner Bros backlot' !

11:33 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks, Vienna, I appreciate that!

Since I recently toured the WB backlot for the first time in many years -- which should be the subject of a future post -- I find myself more aware than ever of just how often we see the same streets in those movies! It sure adds to the "cozy" feel of a movie like this. :)

Best wishes,

9:24 AM  
Blogger Biograph Consulting said...

Hi Laura! You absolutely nailed it when you mentioned it was a "comfortable" film, the sort of fun energy-laden film that Warners could pump out by the dozens, and in this case the zippy, forward quality never lets up, with the amazing Joan Blondell commanding the screen instead of taking a secondary wise-cracking friend of the lead she usually essays. There's even a little social criticism about the heartless newspaper world, but covered with a fast-paced comedy-crime-romance that entertains from start to finish!

10:12 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you so much, and I appreciate you adding your recommendation of this film, which may encourage others who read this review to try it. You've made me want to get it out and spend more time with it. :)

Best wishes,

10:38 AM  

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