Thursday, May 12, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Buy Me That Town (1941) at the Noir City Film Festival

The 18th Noir City Hollywood Festival drew to a close on Sunday, April 24th, with Universal Pictures providing a new 35mm print of the Paramount film BUY ME THAT TOWN (1941).

BUY ME THAT TOWN is one of many '40s Paramount films now owned by Universal.

BUY ME THAT TOWN was part of what might be called a "corrupt towns" double bill with THE CAPTIVE CITY (1952).  It also followed a special screening of TOO LATE FOR TEARS (1949) which had taken place in the early evening.

I was admittedly a bit tired by the time BUY ME THAT TOWN unspooled, having seen 16 films in eight nights at the festival, and it was my third film of the night after a busy day of sightseeing! My memories of it are thus not quite as clear as for the other films, but I enjoyed it and would like to see it again. Lloyd Nolan and a cast of character pros such as Sheldon Leonard and Edward Brophy combined to make it a fun time.

Mobster Chink Moran (Leonard) is -- gasp! -- drafted into the army. In his absence, some of his lieutenants, including Rickey Deane (Nolan), decide to take a break in the country.

Arrested in a little town for speeding, they learn the village's only income is from traffic fines. They also learn that anyone in jail in that unincorporated area is safe from the law of other jurisdictions.

Rickey and company buy up bonds which essentially give them the right to run the town, and they turn the jail into an oasis of luxury, relatively speaking, for crooks on the lam.

However, the men really start to love the town, with one of them becoming the new police chief, one running the fire department, and so on. And Rickey falls for Virginia (Constance Moore), a judge's daughter.

Rickey and the boys decide to bring the town back to life running a legitimate business, a defense factory. But Chink pops back up and wants to tank the plans.

The story of a bunch of conmen taking over running a town, and finding they enjoy it, reminded me of the following year's LARCENY, INC. (1942). In that one some crooks, headed by Edward G. Robinson, take over a store with the intent of robbing a safe next door, but discover they enjoy running an honest business instead.

BUY ME THAT TOWN is a fun, creatively plotted little movie which provides a great "photo album" of sorts of a stream of wonderful character faces. I had a good time watching it.

BUY ME THAT TOWN is a short 70-minute programmer. It was directed by Eugene Forde, filmed in black and white by Theodor Sparkuhl.

The supporting cast includes Barbara Jo Allen, Albert Dekker, Rod Cameron, Horace McMahon, Olin Howland, Russell Hicks, Warren Hymer, and Charles Lane.

To my knowledge, BUY ME THAT TOWN is not available on DVD.

Kudos to everyone at the Film Noir Foundation and the American Cinematheque/Egyptian Theatre for another fantastic year of Noir City which was filled with wonderful discoveries. Looking forward to next year!


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