WHIPLASH (director: Lewis Seiler; screenwriters: Harriet Frank Jr./Maurice Geraghty/from a story by Kenneth Earl; cinematographer: Peverell Marley; editor: Frank Magee; music: Franz Waxman; cast: Dane Clark (Michael Gordon), Alexis Smith (Laurie Rogers Durant), Zachary Scott (Rex Durant), Eve Arden (Chris Sherwood), Jeffrey Lynn (Dr. Arnold Vincent), S.Z. Sakall (Sam), Alan Hale (Terrence O'Leary), Douglas Kennedy (Costello), Jimmie Dodd (Bill the piano player), Alan Hale (Terrence O'Leary), Fred Steele (Duke Carney); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William Jacobs; Warner Bros.; 1948)

"The story was unpersuasive."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Lewis Seiler ("The Big Shot"/"Hell's Kitchen"/"Guadalcanal Diary") directs a downer romantic melodrama that has tough guy artist Mike Gordon (Dane Clark) turn to boxing because he's smitten with the attractive Laurie Rogers (Alexis Smith) and knows no other way to be near her. It's based on a story by Kenneth Earl and written by Harriet Frank Jr. and Maurice Geraghty. The Dane Clark role was meant for John Garfield, but he left Warners and instead took the Body and Soul boxer role for the independent studio United Artists.

The pic opens with Mike getting knocked-out while fighting for the middle-weight championship in NYC. With that the pic goes into flashback. Mike is an aspiring painter from a small coastal town near San Francisco, who has his first painting sold to a mystery woman from NYC named Laurie Rogers and falls in love with her. But she jilts him, and bolts for NYC. Mike's kindly bar owner father-figure mentor Sam (S.Z. Sakall) advises him to go to NYC and chase after his love interest. Once there Mike goes with his neighbor (Eve Arden) to a nightclub and is surprised Laurie's the featured singer. He discovers the hard way Laurie is married to the club owner, a crippled ex-fighter named Rex Durant (Zachary Scott). He's a ruthless mobster and boxing manager, as well as a jealous and manipulative husband. In order to prevent a divorce, Rex threatens to file a malpractice suit against Dr. Vincent (Jeffrey Lynn), Laurie's brother, for leaving him crippled after an auto accident operation.

To get Laurie's goat, Mike, not knowing that she can't get out of the loveless marriage, takes the boxing name Mike Angelo (think Renaissance) and is trained by Rex and becomes close to Dr. Vincent, his boxing doctor.

The pointless story was unpersuasive, was poorly conceived as drama and was a tough watch. Relief from the grim setting comes only from the likeable supporting characters of Eve Arden, at her wisecracking best, and the warm charm of S.Z. Sakall.

REVIEWED ON 1/1/2014       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"