Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Accidents Will Happen (1938)

ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN (1938) is a somewhat odd little Warner Bros. programmer starring Ronald Reagan.

Reagan plays hardworking insurance claims adjuster Eric Gregg. The ever-cheerful Eric seems oblivious to the nastiness of his wife Nona (Sheila Bromley).

Nona, who seems to be a forerunner of the type of character Lizabeth Scott played in TOO LATE FOR TEARS (1949), hates living on a budget and becomes involved in an insurance claims racket scam in order to pay off a fur coat she couldn't afford.

Reagan's husband seems as blind to his wife's faults as Arthur Kennedy did in TOO LATE FOR TEARS. When Nona pretends to have witnessed a fake accident she didn't see, Eric loses his job and his marriage due to trusting his wife's word when he settles the claim.

Ultimately Eric and Patricia (Gloria Blondell), the perky candy counter clerk in his office building, go into business staging fake accidents themselves. But one suspects there might be something more to their schemes than meets the eye.

It's a quick 62 minutes, though I found much of the movie on the depressing side. A number of bad yet not particularly interesting things happen to a nice young man. As described above, it's almost a film noir plot!

On the other hand, Eric's got lovely Blondell waiting for him when his wife departs for Reno. This was the second film for Gloria Blondell, younger sister of Joan, and she's a needed ray of sunshine.

The movie's other plus is a number of good shots of familiar sights from the Warner Bros. backlot streets. Otherwise this one is rather pedestrian.

The supporting cast includes Addison Richards, Hugh O'Connell, Janet Shaw (billed as Ellen Clancy), and Kenneth Harlan.

ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN was directed by William Clemens; the dialogue director was future "A" director Vincent Sherman. The movie was filmed by L. William O'Connell.

ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN is not available on DVD or VHS, but it has been shown on Turner Classic Movies. The trailer is here; it's fun, hosted by "Ronald Reagan, the screen's fastest-rising young star."


Blogger Maricatrin said...

Funny, this one and NINE LIVES ARE NOT ENOUGH are two of my favorite early Reagan B's. I seem to recall that you weren't wild about that one either. Always interesting to get another perspective.

However, I liked ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN much more the second time around, when I knew how things would turn out for old Dutch... he had me a little worried too! So maybe we'll have that in common ;-)

9:37 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Maricatrin,

Great to hear from you! I actually liked NINE LIVES ARE NOT ENOUGH pretty well...not a great movie but it delivered things I like from a "B," including tons of character faces and some interesting shooting locations (including those on the backlot!).

I can see liking this film more the second time around. I was a bit surprised at the outset that Reagan's character wasn't married to top-billed Blondell -- and that his wife was such a shrew. Makes you wonder how they ended up together! I felt sad for his nice character, whereas a noir like TOO LATE FOR TEARS is so over the top it's more fun/funny than down.

Definitely fun to compare notes and hear that you liked this one! I also think it's great to get a variety of perspectives which may better help out someone deciding whether or not a movie will be up their alley, so to speak.

Best wishes,

8:01 PM  
Blogger Maricatrin said...

Hi Laura,

That shows how good my memory is! (lol). Glad to know you liked NINE LIVES.

The good-guy-with-a-horrible-wife plot device always tends to make one wonder "how on earth?", but it's used frequently enough that I just tend to (more or less) accept it (BLUE DAHLIA, 99 RIVER STREET, TENSION, SHADOW ON THE WALL, MAN IN THE NET, etc.)

Watching Reagan's character hit rock bottom but then climbing back and beating all the odds, thanks to his quick wit and Blondell's support, was a big part of what I liked about this movie. Also, if the wife had been any less loathsome, the ending wouldn't have been so satisfying.

What I find most aggravating is a chump who's being taken by a witch, but never does wise up to her! Don't know if that applies to TOO LATE FOR TEARS?

All the best,

10:52 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Good point on how often the "nice guy, nasty wife" plot turns up -- I've seen several of the ones you mention!

That's a good point about him hitting bottom and rising to the top again, and about the satisfying ending. You're improving my feelings toward the movie! :)

Nah, I wouldn't say Arthur Kennedy wises up in TOO LATE FOR TEARS...LOL. (It's one of my very favorites, have seen several times...the bad characters are SO bad it's almost comic...but then you've got a pair of really nice characters to root for in Don DeFore and Kristine Miller -- who ironically was the nasty wife in SHADOW ON THE WALL, which you mentioned!)

Best wishes,

11:30 AM  

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