DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

THE DARK HORSE (director: Alfred E. Green; screenwriters: Wilson Mizner/Joe Jackson/based on a story by Darryl F. Zanuck; cinematographer: Sol Polito; editor: George Marks; music: Leo F. Forbstein; cast: Warren William (Hal Samson Blake), Bette Davis (Kay Russell), Guy Kibbee (Zachary Hicks), Vivienne Osborne (Maybelle Blake), Frank McHugh (Joe), Charles Sellon (Mr. Green)Sam Hardy (Mr. Black), Harry Holman (Mr. Jones), Berton Churchill (William A. Underwood); Runtime: 73; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Darryl F. Zanuck; Warners-First National Pictures; 1932)

"The cynical, daffy pic plays better as farce than satire."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Alfred E. Green  ("The Jackie Robinson Story"/"The Eddie Cantor Story"/"Top Banana") directs this snappy political comedy that's based on a story by Darryl F. Zanuck. Writers Wilson Mizner and Joe Jackson keep the dialogue crisp and mildly satirical, but with no edge.

At the Progressive party convention, at random, a nobody delegate from the sticks of an unnamed state, Zachary Hicks (Guy Kibbee), is chosen to be the party candidate for governor to break a stalemate between rival factions. He turns out to be a dummy. The sharp party secretary, Kay Russell (Bette Davis), urges the party chiefs to hire her smooth-talking boyfriend, Hal Samson Blake (Warren William), to be the campaign manager. But first he must be released from jail for non-payment of alimony.

When bailed out, Hal agrees to take the job and receive a $50,000 bonus if can get a fool like Hicks elected. He coaches the simple-minded bachelor in his campaign against the Conservative candidate (Berton Churchill), romances Kay with sweet-talk and must fend off the greedy antics of his grasping ex-wife Maybelle (Vivienne Osborne). 

Frank McHugh ably plays William's loyal top handler.

The fast pace helps in not enabling the viewer to give things much thought as to the election process, the spin doctoring and the unethical nature of the so-called good guy's campaign.

The cynical, daffy pic plays better as farce than satire, as it shows how easy it is to fool the gullible public even if the candidate it chooses is a nitwit.

REVIEWED ON 7/20/2015       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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