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Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Bologna Diary (3) - More Stahl and a one shot

There was the distinguished John Stahl, director of 40 films or more in a stellar career. Then there was Edwin J. Burke, director of one film though a writer of dozens including some 31 listed in Wikipedia that were filmed between 1928 and 1936. 

Burke wrote variously for Shirley Temple and for Raoul Walsh and Henry King but only once directed, for Now I’ll Tell in 1934.

It’s a fictionalised film based on the memoir of the same name by Mrs Arnold Rothstein, the wife of the big time gambler who liked to make the odds better in his favour by fixing fights and other sporting contests. His most notable achievement in this regard was to buy off the Chicago White Sox to lose the 1919 World Series. That story was documented by John Sayles in the terrific movie Eight Men Out. It is not referred to in Now I’ll Tellin which Spencer Tracy plays the nonchalant gambler with great aplomb. The full house in the air-conditioned Jolly was riveted.

The crowd had also been riveted during the previous session by a not entirely unknown movie by John Stahl, When Tomorrow Comes,in which Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne fall for each other notwithstanding they live on different sides of the tracks. She’s a waitress in a cafĂ© whose female staff are so lowly paid that they have joined the union and are contemplating a strike. Dunne’s passionate speech sways them to take action and Solidarity Forever is sung at both the beginning and the end of the sequence. Boyer plays a concert pianist and brings her home the night before he’s due to sail off for a tour. Not before however, he’s forced to reveal he has a wife with mental problems that he’s trying to cope with as gently as possible. Raging romance, unrequited love. 


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