Today is Friday, time to publish the first 100 New Code Films article of August. Although August is #AMonthWithoutTheCode2020, the month which we have dedicated to avoiding American Breen Era (1934-1954) films, I must continue reviewing two new Code films each week to reach my goal of reviewing 100 films in all. However, I won’t have to break the endeavor to not watch any Code films during this month, since I watched all the films I would need to review during July.
Today’s topic is Two Smart People from 1946. I signed up for the blogathon honoring Lucille Ball a couple of months ago, deciding to review some Code film she made. I originally planned to review Lover Come Back from 1946, but that movie wasn’t available on Amazon Prime Video. Thus, I decided to find another new Code film of hers to watch on Prime Video. When I saw this film, it looked fascinating. I watched it in mid-July in preparation for this blogathon.
A phony oil well salesman is wanted by the police for stealing government bonds worth $500,000. On the West Coast, he meets a beautiful lady painting forger. They make each other’s acquaintance when they spoil each other’s swindles on an unsuspecting victim. The conman finally is cornered by a policeman who has been chasing him for years and thus has become a sort of friend. He persuades the law enforcer to let him spend a week crossing the country and enjoying himself before going to his five-year stretch in prison in New York. They travel by train to New Mexico and eventually New Orleans in time for Mardi Gras. Little does the policeman know that the criminal has the desired bonds hidden inside a cookbook. Meanwhile, the lady crook has boarded the same train in search of those bonds, which she has to get for a criminal confederate. During their strange trip, the two criminals may just fall in love.
This movie stars Lucille Ball, John Hodiak, and Lloyd Nolan. Supporting actors include Hugo Haas, Lenore Ulric, Elisha Cook Jr., Lloyd Corrigan, and Vladimir Sokoloff.
This movie was directed by Jules Dassin. It was produced by Ralph Wheelwright. The production company was MGM. The screenplay was written by Ethel Hill and Leslie Charteris. The story was written by Ralph Wheelwright and Allan Kenward.
This is a good Code film. There is nothing objectionable about this film. This is a story in which the two leading man and the leading woman are both criminals. In films of this sort, it can be a potential danger for the law to become the enemy. However, that problem was avoided in this movie. Although Ace Connors (John Hodiak) and Ricki Woodner (Lucille Ball) are likeable but crooked characters, policeman Bob Simms (Lloyd Nolan) is equally likeable. He truly seems to be a friend to Ace, wanting to help him square himself with the law so that he can enjoy the rest of his life as an honest citizen. His presence serves another useful purpose in the plot. Since Ace and Ricki are traveling across the country on the same train, they spend a lot of time together and even stay at the same inn during one of the stops. However, Bob stays in the same room with Ace, not only ensuring that the criminal can’t escape but also assuring us that he is not having an immoral relationship with Ricki. Bob is a chaperone as well as a policeman. There is action and peril in this movie, but it is not violent or likely to bother anyone. Ultimately, it is a Code film, so wrongdoing must be punished. When this film is over, you will be certain “that evil is wrong and good is right.”
I highly recommend this movie. It is a really enjoyable film. This movie blends the suspense and drama of its crime theme with the tender romance of its lead characters’ budding love. This is a story about how much love can change people. Both Ace and Ricki go from cynical, selfish people to compassionate individuals who are capable of considering and caring for other human beings. The excellent acting delivered by the performers brings this theme to vivid life. This is only the second film I have ever seen with John Hodiak, the first being The Harvey Girls (1945). This gentleman seemed to have a talent for playing crooked, tough characters who are softened to seeing the right path in life by falling in love. He is very convincing in this role. Lucille Ball is equally great as his leading lady, but more on her in the next paragraph. Lloyd Nolan’s character is a very strong supporting role in this story. I have only seen Mr. Nolan playing gangsters before this. It was nice to see him on the right side of the law for once. He is very convincing as a law enforcer. His portrayal of Bob is very human, compassionate, and fair, as every policeman should be. This story brings the audience to some very memorable destinations as we follow our trio across the country. The Southwest is highlighted by a brief jaunt across the border to a beautiful inn in Mexico. The film’s climax takes place in New Orleans, one of America’s most exciting cities, during Mardi Gras. The costumes, masks, parades, and revelry of this holiday are the colorful (although in black-and-white) backdrop for the drama’s finale. You don’t have to be a fan of crime films to like Two Smart People.
For the Blogathon
This is my entry in The We Love Lucy Blogathon 2020 hosted by Musings of an Introvert. This blogathon is being hosted in honor of Lucy’s 109th birthday, which would have been yesterday. This great classic actress is best known for playing a caricature of herself on the I Love Lucy show in the 1950s, opposite her husband, Ricky Riccardo. From this television show and many films, she is remembered as one of the first and the greatest comediennes of the entertainment industry. However, she was also a very talented serious actress. In Two Smart People, she plays a very dramatic role.
As Ricki, the clever and misleadingly innocent forgeress, Lucy plays a woman with many dimensions. She is witty, cold, sensitive, alluring, deceptive, trusting, and ultimately very devoted. Lucy doesn’t do any funny stunts or crack any jokes in this movie. She is a very serious, dramatic actress, and she holds her own alongside two very serious actors. She embodies this dynamic role as well as any non-comedienne could. In addition, she lends her red-headed beauty to the film’s visual appear. She looks lovelier than ever in her many beautiful costumes, particularly the princess dress which she wears for Mardi Gras. If you want to see Lucy get smart as a sophisticated woman who can hold her own amongst conmen, cops, and crooks, this is the movie to watch!
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