Friday, August 24, 2018

Tonight's Movie: Black Sheep (1935)

Edmund Lowe and Claire Trevor star in BLACK SHEEP (1935), an enjoyable shipboard drama with dashes of romance and comedy.

Lowe plays John Dugan, a professional gambler who becomes acquainted with Janette Foster (Trevor), an actress, while sailing from Europe to New York.

Both are down on their luck financially, which means they're sailing in second class. They slip into a first class salon, where they witness two wealthy men (Eugene Pallette and Jed Prouty) taking a young man named Fred (Tom Brown) for a ride in a poker game; Dugan and Foster determine to help him get his money back.

Fred is a nice yet immature young man with some significant problems, including being indebted to wealthy kleptomaniac Millicent Bath (Adrienne Ames). Dugan untangles Fred's issues and sets him on the path of "right living," in the process falling in love with the helpful Foster -- and unexpectedly learning that he's related to Fred.

This film was a nice surprise, well scripted and with strong performances by Lowe and Trevor, who are well matched and have a good bantering chemistry.

The shipboard setting is most appealing; after train films, movies set on ocean liners are some of my favorites! The film has very nice set decoration and music, including "In Other Words, I'm in Love" sung by Dick Webster.

Ames, who was Mrs. Bruce Cabot at the time, is quite striking as one of the villains of the piece, and her stealing for thrills rather than financial need was an interesting twist. Ames and Cabot divorced in 1937; sadly she died of cancer just a decade later, age 43.

The BLACK SHEEP supporting cast includes Herbert Mundin, David Torrence, Billy Bevan, Ford Sterling, Wade Boteler, and Bess Flowers, who appears in two scenes as a passenger and faints dramatically at the sight of a mouse.

BLACK SHEEP was directed by Allan Dwan, from a script by Dwan and Allen Rivkin. It was filmed by Arthur Miller. The running time is 76 minutes.

BLACK SHEEP is available on DVD from Fox Cinema Archives. It's a very nice print.

BLACK SHEEP is the kind of movie one hopes to discover when trying out an unknown film; while not a classic, it provides enjoyable, well-crafted entertainment.


Blogger barrylane said...

I have in my library The Lone Wolf's Son by Louis Joseph Vance, who by coincidence, died the year prior to The Black Sheep, and awfully similar if not a close copy. There is, I believe, a clue to this in the opening sequence between Clair Trevor and Edmund Lowe, when he describes himself as a Lone Wolf. Have no more to got on other than story and dialogue, but for me it makes a pretty good bet.

6:45 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

Follow up on the above note: TCM gives Dwan credit for the original story, and as far as I can see, that adds credibility to the Lone Wolf's Son theory. A lift, something not at all unheard of.

8:26 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for that interesting background, Barrylane. Would be interesting to learn more. I sure enjoyed this and wish there had been a sequel.

Best wishes,

12:17 AM  

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