James Dunn

  • Monte Brice & Laurence Schwab – Take a Chance (1933)

    Monte Brice1931-1940ClassicsLaurence SchwabMusicalUSA

    Take a Chance was based on the hit Broadway musical of the same name, though only one
    of the original songs, Eadie Was a Lady, has been retained. The thinnish plot involves the
    misadventures of a pair of pickpockets, played on Broadway by Jack Haley and Sid Silvers
    and on film by James Dunn and Cliff “Ukelele Ike” Edwards. Tired of fleecing the suckers in
    a traveling carnival, our heroes head to Broadway, where they get mixed up with gangsters.
    The soubrette role originally played on stage by Ethel Merman is herein essayed by Lillian
    Roth, hardly a fair trade. Billed last in the huge cast is Marjorie Main, 15 years before
    stepping into her trademark role as Ma Kettle.Read More »

  • Alfred Santell – That Brennan Girl (1946)

    1941-1950Alfred SantellDramaRomanceUSA

    On Mother’s Day, 1946, in San Francisco, Ziggy Brennan thinks back on the events which have brought her to this day.

    Raised as a grifter by her single mother, a San Francisco girl (Mona Freeman, in the role that should have made her a star) learns to adjust her priorities when she is left a young war widow, with a child of her own to take care of. Unaccountably overlooked, this resonant, formally inventive film was the final work of the director Alfred Santell as well as the last leading role of Oscar-winner James Dunn.Read More »

  • Frank Borzage – Bad Girl (1931)

    1931-1940ClassicsFrank BorzageUSA

    Bad Girl hasn’t worn as well as some of his other romances. It opens with Dot (Sally Eilers) in an elegant wedding gown talking nervously to her ever-present friend Edna (Minna Gomball). When she sails out of the room, we realize that she’s modeling this wedding dress for lecherous male department store customers. This opening emphasizes Borzage’s indifference to matrimony, as does his decision to simply skip the wedding of his leads, Eilers’s sexy Dot and James Dunn’s rough-Irish Eddie. There’s some charm and poignancy in this couple’s constant wisecracking, especially when they sit on the stairs of her apartment house and ponder their future while a whole cavalcade of miserable humanity trudges up the stairs and yells out of their doors impatiently. And there’s a classic Borzage moment when Eddie playfully chases Dot around the room, gathers her up in his arms, and yanks her hat off…….Read More »

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