|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)|
by Dennis Schwartz
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.
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.
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"
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