Sunday, November 08, 2015

Tonight's Movie: I Sell Anything (1934) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Pat O'Brien plays a fast-talking auctioneer in I SELL ANYTHING (1934). It's part of the brand-new Forbidden Hollywood: Volume 9, now available from the Warner Archive.

It's always exciting to see another pre-Code set released by the Archive. Volume 9 is a five-film, four disc collection. The other movies in the set are BIG CITY BLUES (1932), HELL'S HIGHWAY (1932), THE CABIN IN THE COTTON (1932), and WHEN LADIES MEET (1933). I'll have more reviews from this set in the future.

O'Brien plays "Spot Cash Cutler," who has a racket "creatively" selling junk to the gullible on New York's 2nd Avenue, along with his employees Monk (Roscoe Karns) and Smiley (Russell Hopton). Barbara (Ann Dvorak) joins the group after Cutler comes to her aid when she faints in his store due to malnutrition.

Elegant Millicent (Claire Dodd) meets Cutler and ultimately sets him up in a business auctioneering high-end items on 5th Avenue, but it turns out that she's a bigger crook than Cutler is; she convinces him to auction off an entire house of phony antiques. Will Cutler, lured by money and a gorgeous dame, end up in jail?

O'Brien and Dvorak, who previously costarred in COLLEGE COACH (1933), are an appealing team, but unfortunately they don't have enough screen time together. The third-billed Dodd has the more significant female role, while Dvorak is something of an afterthought, pining away for Cutler. Dvorak's character mostly exists to show that Cutler has some kindness and humanity, saving him from coming off as an unlikeable crook.

The film is so-so, stymied at the outset by an exceptionally long sequence with Cutler and his pals plying their shady trade; this opening set piece takes up roughly a quarter of the movie's 70-minute running time. The pace picks up considerably once both Dvorak and Dodd enter the picture.

The movie's other drawback is that the "hero" is a crook, though it's offset to some extent by seeing him receive his comeuppance at the hands of the crafty Dodd.

The film is interesting enough for fans of the actors to give it a look, but its chief selling point is simply spending time with the cast, who have all done better work.

I SELL ANYTHING was directed by Robert Florey and shot by Sid Hickox. The supporting cast includes Hobart Cavanaugh, Robert Barrat, and Leonard Carey.

I SELL ANYTHING is a good print, save for a couple of scenes with a noticeable thread at the edge of the picture; given the movie's age, it's a perfectly fine viewing experience, with good sound quality. The trailer for I SELL ANYTHING is included on the disc.

Collectors should note that the initial copies of the set sold directly from the WBShop are pressed discs.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD collection. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the WBShop.


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