Sunday, September 22, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Man of Iron (1935) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Barton MacLane stars as the MAN OF IRON (1935), released on DVD earlier this year by the Warner Archive.

MAN OF IRON is a short 61-minute "B" drama from Warner Bros. MacLane plays Chris Bennett, a factory shop foreman who is greatly appreciated by the owner, Harrison Balding (Joe King). Balding promotes Chris to general manager, which leaves the current assistant manager, Tanahill (John Eldredge), none too happy. Tanahill and secretary Vida (Mary Astor) conspire to undermine Chris in his new role.

Despite the lack of support from Tanahill and Vida, Chris's boss is happy with his work and promotes Chris to Vice President. Then the real trouble begins, as Chris gets a little too big for his britches and neglects his work in order to invest his time in building a large house. (Future cowboy star "Wild" Bill Elliott, billed as Gordon Elliott, plays the architect!) Chris's wife Bessie (Dorothy Peterson) isn't happy with the overspending, and meanwhile problems at the factory begin to snowball...

It gets a bit old when Chris doesn't wise up and neglects his work too long in the last third of the film; you'd think a working man smart enough to rate repeated promotions would have the common sense to stayed focused.

Otherwise I enjoyed this film pretty well; it's nothing especially memorable but provides a pleasant hour for those who appreciate minor films of the era. Chris and Bessie have a nice supportive relationship, and I enjoyed the cast, which also included Craig Reynolds, Joe Sawyer, Joseph Crehan, and John Qualen.

Curiously, Mary Astor's role is a completely nothing part, to the point where I wondered if some of her scenes were left on the cutting-room floor. It seemed like quite a small, inconsequential role for someone who had starred in numerous films to this point; perhaps she wasn't working at the time this was made and the studio wanted to be sure they were getting their money's worth out of her contract!

I find the publicity still seen here rather hilarious, as they threw Astor into a photo dramatizing a scene where Chris rescues a coworker from an accident. Astor had nothing to do with the sequence in the actual movie; audiences sold on seeing the film after seeing a photo like this must have been surprised at how little she has to do in the movie.

The movie was directed by William C. McGann and filmed by L.W. O'Connell.

The Warner Archive DVD is a bit soft but all in all a solid print with good sound. There are no extras on the disc.

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.


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