Saturday, December 08, 2018

Tonight's Movie: Man of the People (1937) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

MAN OF THE PEOPLE (1937) is an MGM "B" picture just released on DVD by the Warner Archive.

Joseph Calleia plays Jack Moreno, a recent law school graduate struggling to make a living as an attorney in the poor New York neighborhood where he grew up. It's soon made clear to Moreno that unless he plays ball with the corrupt local political boss, William Grady (Thomas Mitchell), Moreno's career will go nowhere.

Moreno doggedly attempts to remain his own man, but when his clients keep getting sent to jail despite his best efforts at representation, he gives in and goes to work defending Grady's men. He later becomes Assistant District Attorney and is told by Grady he'll be named District Attorney, but when the time comes Grady backtracks on his promise.

Moreno tries to run for the DA position without Grady's support and loses, but the Governor (Selmer Jackson) puts Moreno to work going after some swindlers who own a machine they claim can find gold. Moreno's problem now is not the mob but his angry girlfriend Abbey (Florence Rice), a socialite whose mother (Catherine Doucet) is involved in the scheme. Abbey walks out on Moreno, but he's had his fill of being a political machine "yes" man and is determined to act with integrity pursuing crime going forward, even at the cost of the woman he loves.

The movie is moderately interesting; it's on the quiet side yet has enough in it, in terms of story and lead actors, to sustain viewer interest. The film is particularly interesting for the opportunity to see character actor (and frequent villain) Calleia as a heroic lead. Mitchell is always worth seeing, and I was glad to check off having watched another film starring the lovely and charming Rice.

The plot sort of jerks around from here to there, and it could have been better written; it also wouldn't have hurt to shave the 81-minute running time just a bit. For instance, there's a subplot with a neighborhood woman (Jane Barton) who has unrequited love for Jack which goes nowhere.

Despite my criticisms, overall I found the film worth checking out. I'm always glad when the Warner Archive makes such relatively obscure films available for home viewing.

Ted Healy is his usual annoying self as Grady's fixer who becomes a Moreno loyalist. The cast also includes Jonathan Hale, Donald Briggs, Edward J. Nugent, and Robert Emmett Keane.

MAN OF THE PEOPLE was directed by Edwin L. Marin and filmed in black and white by Charles Clarke.

The Warner Archive DVD print is quite good. The disc includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


Blogger Hamlette said...

I'm growing fond of Joseph Calleia, thanks to all the Alan Ladd movies he was in. I'd really like to see him as the lead, so I'll have to try to see this!

3:17 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I especially like Calleia in the Joel McCrea-Frances Dee Western FOUR FACES WEST. It was interesting seeing him as a movie's central character!

Best wishes,

4:16 PM  
Blogger Hamlette said...

I like Joel McCrea too, so I'll have to add Four Faces West to my TBW list too!

8:12 AM  

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