Sep 2, 2018
Accidents Will Happen (1938) represents kind of a milestone in the young Gipper's career - his first chance to play a non-radio announcer/reporter. In classic Warners "ripped-from-the-headlines" style, the film tackles an Insurance Fraudster Scare that generated more than 400 New York Times headlines during the late 1930s. Our panel discerns the lineaments of the future politician's crowd pleasing persona in the figure of Eric Gregg, intrepid accident claims detective, who is both the ultimate naif and the ultimate sharpie. Nothing gets by him! Except the fact this his wife hates his good corporate soldier/"I'll get a raise next year" act so much that she is willing to get creative about punishing him for failing to hold up his end of the patriarchal bargain.
During the 1940s, Reagan's unique Shark Scout qualities will serve him well in Popular Front leftist narratives like Juke Girl, and they will be turned to more sinister account during the 1980s we all hate so much, but here you'd be hard-pressed to ascribe any coherent politics to his actions. On the other hand, the film does make a brief detour into hard-edged class politics in its sensitive depiction of Red Time Hero Clinton Rosemond's plight. We also get a healthy dose of proto-feminist ire, thanks to Sheila Bromley's strong portrayal of a woman who probably makes the right choice between a life of domestic listlessness and a responsible position within a thriving criminal enterprise.
All this and Joan Blondell's sister, too! All in 60 minutes.