Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

Year: 1932

Director: Alfred E. Green

Cast: Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. , Joan Blondell, Guy Kibbee, Alan Hale, George Rosener

Chick (Fairbanks) and Scraps (Kibbee) are two hobos just released from the hoosegow for vagrancy. They need money to eat and make their way to Union Depot where Chick manages to get some clean clothes and money off a drunk who leaves his luggage in the men’s room. While at the station he also sees Ruth (Joan Blondell), an out of work chorus girl who’s broke and needs $64 to get to Salt Lake City for her next job and to get away from a sexual predator. Hungry and broke she accepts Chick’s invitation to go to a hotel room next to the station where he buys her a meal. Thinking she is a prostitute he is looking for repayment with some female companionship. When he thinks she’s refusing to put Chick smacks Ruth (a 1932 review in Time magazine points out that this may have been prompted by recent screen activities of James Cagney and Clark Gable). He soon realizes that Ruth is not really a prostitute, just broke and desperate. Underneath, Chick is really a good guy and agrees to help her get to Salt Lake City.

In a series of incidents involving pickpockets, counterfeiters and just plain fate Chick finds himself in the possession of a violin case full of counterfeit money, though he does not know it is counterfeit at the time. He buys Ruth a couple of dresses and the ticket to Salt Lake City with the funny money. The store clerk where Ruth purchased her dresses realizes the money is phony and calls the police who quickly arrest Ruth and Chick. Chick tells the police how he came by the money finding a check stub in a discarded wallet. The wallet had been tossed by a pickpocket after stealing it from one of the counterfeiters. Eventually after a shooting, a chase through the train yards and more misunderstandings by the law, Chick and Ruth are both cleared and the counterfeiters caught. Ruth boards the train for Salt Lake City as Chick, broke again, waves to her goodbye.

The ending is a nice touch. In most movies the couple would have fell in love and lived happily ever after. Here, they meet and depart with no artificial happy ending. All this plays out in real time.

The film is entertaining and is helped by good performances, especially by Fairbanks, Blondell and Frank McHugh. Joan Blondell is always a pleasure to watch and is as sexy as she has ever been on screen.

Union Depot benefits from it pre-code openness and it is amazing what got past the censors, prostitution, sexual perversion, and attempted rape. Articles discussing Warner Brothers pre-code films hardly, if ever, mention Union Depot which is a shame. Director Alfred Green keeps the film moving at a nice pace and at approximately 75 minutes is a nice trip.

Oh, did I mention that Joan Blondell is in this picture?

By John Greco


Wow, two big birthdays in a row!

Robert Montgomery is just my absolute favorite ever. An amazing actor, a fantastic director, and very handsome man.

Montgomery had a wonderful talent in front of the camera. He could play almost any kind of character in any kind of movie. Romantic melodrama, screwball comedy, even psychological thriller. Montgomery could do it all and he could do it brilliantly.

Sadly, he’s not as remembered today as he should be. He deserves to be remembered among the greats of the 1930s and the 1940s. Nearly all of his films could be considered obscure classics. I’ve seen 54 of his films, but I don’t want to go overkill here. Instead of just listing my favorites, I’m going to do a nice little service for everyone and talk about the rare films that you can get at

The Big House (1930) – Montgomery costars with Wallace Beery and Chester Morris in this prison drama. Those of you who are mostly familiar with Montgomery as the suave playboy are in for a treat here, with Montgomery going against the type he would late establish for himself by playing something of a nervous weasel.

The Gallant Hours (1960) – Montgomery directs this war drama starring James Cagney. It’s a really interesting war film, done without battle scenes.

Fugitive Lovers (1934) – Montgomery stars with my favorite of his leading ladies, Madge Evans, in this really sweet road film about an escaped convict and a showgirl who fall in love when they meet on a bus.

Hide-Out (1934) – Montgomery and Maureen O’Sullivan make a really sweet pairing in this unique, but genuine love story about an injured gangster who finds sanctuary with a family on a farm. He falls in love with the sweet daughter. This movie has one of the absolute most romantic scenes of the 1930s.

June Bride (1948) – Not a great film, but it’s pretty fun and Montgomery and Davis have decent chemistry together.

When Ladies Meet (1934) – Definitely not one of my favorite Montgomery films. Kind of dull and the characters are all pretty unlikeable. But you get to see Bob with two of his best leading ladies, Myrna Loy and Ann Harding.

Haunted Honeymoon (1940) – I really enjoy this movie. Robert Montgomery and the completely lovely Constance Cummings play reluctant crime solvers who get sucked into a murder mystery on their honeymoon. A colorful cast of characters and a good romance between its leads makes this movie really fun.

The Saxon Charm (1948) – I still haven’t gotten my hands on this one yet (soon, oh very soon), but it’s available and I think it looks pretty good.

Ride the Pink Horse (1947) – A really brutal noir that doesn’t shy away from violence. Montgomery gives a really good performance, as well as directs.

Inspiration (1931) – This movie doesn’t get enough love. A lot of people say that Montgomery and Garbo just didn’t go well together, I think their restrained, under the surface chemistry was perfect for this movie about repressed love and sexuality.

The Single Standard (1929) – Yeah, I’m cheating on this one. Montgomery is just an extra in this film, but it’s one of my very favorite Garbo movies and everyone should see it.

The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (1937) – Another Montgomery movie that I just downright adore. Joan Crawford was one of his best costars. This is a really fun and unique story about jewel thief Crawford falling for Montgomery, the nephew of her mark.

Letty Lynton (1932) – A fantastic pre-code melodrama with Joan Crawford giving one of her best performances

Faithless (1932) – A beautiful Depression era romance. Bob and Tallulah Bankhead are perfect together. Montgomery gives a really wonderful performance, but this movie belongs to Bankhead.

Fast and Loose (1939) – I’m such a sucker for screwball detective movies, especially when they star Robert Montgomery and Rosalind Russell.

Night Must Fall (1937) – This is probably Montgomery’s best performance. He completely breaks type to play a creepy, tortured, insane murderer.

There you go. is a wonderful resource. You pay less than $10 for each DVD (and that includes shipping) and these films (and so many others they have) are more than worth it.