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Jan 19, 2019

It’s the return of Brass Bancroft! (In Reagan’s own least favorite of his films.)

This episode was recorded on August 27th, 2018, with your humble panel suffering through the embarrassing Ballet McCainique that had a stranglehold on the American media that week.

After venting our collective spleens on that particular topic, we turn our attention to the film at hand – also kind of an embarrassment to Warner’s vaunted Foy unit. They fell down on the job here. In The Films of Ronald Reagan, Tony Thomas contends that both Foy and his star asked the studio not to release it. They compromised by releasing it everywhere except in Los Angeles. A better compromise might’ve been to rework it a little – but, hey, whaddya want? They made these movies in 7 days!

We nevertheless found much to discuss. Lacking anything like a compelling story to distract us, we zero in on the Reagan persona – a unique synthesis of sharpie and naïf. This American character type goes back to Mark Twain (at least), and several Hollywood stars (notably Gary Cooper) walked a tightrope between squint-eyed shrewdness and man-childishness; but can you think of any other actor so ideally fitted to playing a press agent or a scout leader? (He wound up playing both at the same time – for 8 miserable years during the 1980s).     

Other pleasures (or, at least, puzzlers) on offer include: Moroni Olsen as a singularly psychopathic counterfeit-monk/counterfeiter; sidekick Gabby’s bizarre strip poker antics with the Mexican police (for all you Foy Jr. fetishists); the luminous Rosella Towne in her second straight Bancroft film (playing an entirely different character); and an unexpected cameo from Paul Muni. Sadly, John Litel had moved on to playing Nancy Drew’s dad at this point, and his replacement makes a damned second-rate Saxby (fortunately, Litel will return for 1940’s Murder in the Air).     

Novel suggestion:

Peter Delacorte's Time on My Hands

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