EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|STRUGGLE, THE (director/writer: D.W. Griffith; screenwriters: based on a story by John Emerson and Anita Loos; cinematographers: Nick Rogalli/Joseph Ruttenberg; editor: Barney Rogan; music: Philip A. Scheib/D.W. Griffith; cast: Hal Skelly (Jimmie Wilson ), Zita Johann (Florrie Wilson), Charlotte Wynters (Nina), Jackson Halliday (Johnnie Marshall ), Evelyn Baldwin (Nan Wilson), Edna Hagan (Mary), Arthur Lipson (Cohen); Runtime: 77; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: D.W. Griffith; United Artists; 1931)|
best viewed as a fascinating curio, brought down by its wooden
acting and grim, hokey tale of woe."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This was the great filmmaker, "the father of the American
cinema," D.W. Griffith's ("Birth of a
Blossoms") final film, a cornball melodrama that goes off on a stiff
Victorian-like moral tract in regards to the evils of booze and how
Prohibition led beer drinkers onto the more potent hard liquor. The
pre-Depression satire (taking place mostly in the 1920s) chronicles the
life of its decent average Joe protagonist, Jimmie Wilson (Hal Skelly, Broadway stage actor),
New Yorker who becomes a drunk from getting liquored up from the
bootlegger's booze at the speakeasies and falls from grace in his
career as a mill foreman in a steel plant and in his domestic life with
his lovely wife Florrie (Zita
Johann) as his marital life starts unraveling over his
drinking. It takes a climactic
scene of the DT's and
Jimmie's sweet little daughter Mary's (Edna Hagan) encouragement to brings the good Joe back
to his senses.
The indie film was backed
with Griffith's money and had a
$300,000 budget. It was filmed at a Bronx rental studio. Critics
panned it and the public stayed away in droves, causing the film to
bomb at the box office and Griffith to spend the next seventeen years
of his life in misery because he was never given the chance to make
another film. The Struggle is based on a story by the
husband and wife team of John Emerson and Anita Loos, who based it on the story The Drunkard by Emile Zola.
To Griffith's credit he did
better in the talkie medium (his second talkie) than his contemporaries
might have thought and his warning about the evils of booze preceded
Billy Wilder's acclaimed The Lost Weekend (1945), that covered the same
its vulnerable to booze hero. In reality, the film was no worse than
most melodramas at the time, but was still below Griffith's better
Today it's best viewed as a
fascinating curio, brought down by its wooden acting and grim, hokey
tale of woe.
Griffith married in 1936 his
second wife, Evelyn Baldwin--she played Skelly's sister.
REVIEWED ON 5/2/2010 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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