Manpower (1941)

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sugarpuss
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Manpower (1941)

Post by sugarpuss »

I've been waiting to see this movie forever (the last showing was in December of 2005!) and I'm happy to say that it didn't disappoint. I'll watch anything that Edward G. Robinson is in and the added bonus of George Raft, made it even better.

I started the thread here because I'm not sure what genre it would go in. Is it a comedy? With support from Alan Hale and Frank McHugh, it was a comedy. There are various scenes where these two turn it into almost slapstick. The hospital scenes in particular were very comedic and when chasing the nurses around, Hale reminded me of Animal from The Muppet Show. His character was also reminicent of the one he played in "Desperate Journey", which I saw on Reagan day during SUTS. Eve Arden is her usual wisecracking self in her scenes with Marlene Dietrich and it's good to see.

But it's also a drama: there's the love triangle between Robinson/Dietrich/Raft, her father getting electrocuted at the beginning and Dietrich working as a "nightclub hostess" (I always enjoy those thinly veiled occupation titles hinting at prostitution).

I'm not a huge Marlene fan (although I always enjoy reading stories about her--she's a real character!), but she looked absolutely gorgeous in this film. The reason I most wanted to see this film however, was after reading about the behind the scenes fights between Robinson and Raft. Both were smitten with Marlene after separately meeting with her (I believe the book on Robinson I read uses the term, "Schooboy Crush"). When Hedda Hopper started a rumor that Dietrich was going to be replaced by Ann Sheridan, both actors stormed the WB front office with complaints. Raft didn't like sharing top billing with Robinson and wound up punching him during the scene in the hamburger place. Raft also objected to the ending, since letting Robinson go made him look weak; it was decided to have the line break instead.

The whole shoot was a total mess (even going overbudged) and I wouldn't believe it, since Robinson and Raft look so buddy-buddy throughout the whole thing (they finally made up during the shoot of "A Bullet for Joey" in 1955).

It's a shame TCM doesn't play it more often and that it's not on DVD. And even though it was somewhat unbalanced with the comedy to drama ratio, I enjoyed it and I'd watch it again. Good performances, especially by Eddie G--he plays kind of a woman-chasing schlub and then goes a little crazy at the end, which I love. He's so good at going nuts!
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Post by MissGoddess »

I love all the Warner-ese wisecracks that constantly went back and forth between the characters---no one has any real dialoge so much as they just shoot eachother down verbally. Love this movie, and am happy to have it recorded.
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Post by Bogie »

I liked the movie too as well but I found the comedy to be more like KOMEDY! If you get my drift. I found the whole "look at those drunk fools LOL!" stuff to be a bit much.

The drama is what really hooked me into the movie and I didn't know that Eddie G. and Raft really didn't like each other. You wouldn't be able to tell just by looking at this flick. It's interesting tho when you hear about stories like that with modern movies you CAN see the hate in the actors' faces.

Anyways glad I watched the movie and even tho I don't really like Dietrich either she was beautiful and subdued enough for my taste.
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Post by markbeckuaf »

One of my faves, as I'm a HUGE fan of Robinson,and Raft also. Robinson is my favourite actor! :)

I actually liked A BULLET FOR JOEY a bit better though, which is their only other collaboration.
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Post by pktrekgirl »

^ :lol: I was waiting for you to show up and comment in this thread! ;)

I've not seen MANPOWER yet, but I recorded it the other day. If it's one of your 'highly recommended' Eddie G. films, then I might bump it to the top of the stack.

I'd love it if you posted a small list of 'essential Eddie G. viewing', Mark. He had such a long career that I don't know where to start. I've seen all of the films he made with Bogie...and then some of the obvious ones like LITTLE CAESAR. And a few others that have come on from time to time - THE STRANGER and others like that that come on TCM occasionally. But I'd love for you to give me some of your personal picks!
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Post by markbeckuaf »

You asked fer it, you got it!

*FIVE STAR FINAL Amazing performance by Eddie G in this scandal sheet expose.
*LITTLE CAESAR While the film overall is not as good as two other definitive gangster films made around the same time (PUBLIC ENEMY, SCARFACE), the reason to watch this film (over and over again!) is Robinson. He establishes his gangster/tough guy persona which, like Cagney in PUBLIC ENEMY, kind of stuck him in a rut with roles, but he did have the chance to branch out a bit and when he did, he showed that he could do so much more. But his gangster persona is great too!
*TWO SECONDS Tight, short film, Eddie is fantastic!
*SMART MONEY Only film that featured by Eddie and Cagney together, shame they never did it again. Cagney has a lesser role, but it's cool to see, and Eddie is great naturally!
*THE HATCHET MAN Eddie plays an Asian character, and if you buy into that, it's a great film.
*TIGER SHARK WB made a million films with this as the essential plot, and they re-did it somewhat in MANPOWER, too. Eddie's performance is really great.
*THE LITTLE GIANT This is the first of several gangster "spoof" films that Eddie did, and I love them all, with this one perhaps being the best. Hilarious send-up, and Eddie got to show his flair for comedy.
*SILVER DOLLAR Great performance and led to Eddie playing several other bio pics.
*THE MAN WITH TWO FACES
*THE WHOLE TOWN'S TALKING (in both of these films, Eddie gets to play dual roles, sort of)
*BULLETS OR BALLOTS First of several pairings with Bogie. Also Eddie's on the side of the law, much like Cagney with G-MEN around the same time, they switched the leads over to the law, but still had violent films about gangsters LOL Way to evade the code's restrictions. The scene where Eddie finds out something critical to the plot, while riding in a cab, is one of the best in film history, IMO.
*KID GALAHAD Eddie's a boxing promoter and his only film appearance with Bette Davis
*A SLIGHT CASE OF MURDER Yet another of Eddie's gangster spoofs, this one really cracks me up!
*THE AMAZING DR. CLITTERHOUSE A gangster spoof, but different in that Eddie is not the gangster, but a doctor with a weird theory who gets mixed up with them. I love this one!
*THE SEA WOLF Incredible performance! With Garfield.
*MANPOWER natch
*UNHOLY PARTNERS Simply riveting performance by Eddie.
*LARCENY, INC. With Jane Wyman. Another gangster spoof, another winner!
*TAMPICO By no means a great film, but it's a nice slice of life film, and a very sweet love story for Eddie amidst WWII and spies.
*DOUBLE INDEMNITY There is a lot more going on here than Eddie's character, but he really makes the film way better than it might otherwise have been. This was the shift point in his career where he would sometimes play more character roles, or leads in B productions.
*Both of Fritz Lang's films: THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW and SCARLET STREET are must viewing, with the latter being a bit better.
*THE RED HOUSE Another riveting performance
*KEY LARGO This film is a winner on many levels, but Eddie's return to the gangster role that defined much of his career, and doing it in such a dramatic fashion is a must-see! His opening shot, with the camera panning over the bathroom to the tub, the fan, and finally Eddie's mug, bigger than life, stogie hanging out of his mouth, is priceless!
*THE NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES* Off-beat tale and role for Eddie, fascinated me.
*TIGHT SPOT with Ginger Rogers.
*A BULLET FOR JOEY Another pairing with Raft
*NIGHTMARE Another off-beat film, Eddie grounds it for us in this one.


I'm not sure that will help you or not! :) I love more than on this list too, but going through his filmography, I'd say these are all winners for sure!
Mark
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Post by mongoII »

Dietrich is indeed gorgeous in "Manpower", I just love watching her. Dietrich knew how to use her eyes, those beautiful eyes.
Also a favorite is "Blonde Venus" (that monkey suit is a hoot), and "Golden Earrings" as Lydia the wild gypsy.

In Maria Riva's bio of her mother 'Marlene Dietrich' she quotes her mom regarding Edward G. Robinson: "Ugly little man - why is he a star?"
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Post by sugarpuss »

I have to second Mark's recommendations of "Tampico" (it's been showing on the Fox Movie Channel for awhile now--get it before they take it off), "A Slight Case of Murder" (very funny) and "Kid Galahad" (this is the actor that Bette hated kissing because of his 'liver lips'. Poor Eddie.)
The drama is what really hooked me into the movie and I didn't know that Eddie G. and Raft really didn't like each other. You wouldn't be able to tell just by looking at this flick.
I know! If I didn't read it, I would have never thought they really hated each other with the intensity they did. I also thought it was pretty clear in his face that Eddie liked Marlene very much as well. They had much more in common than she and Raft (Although from a purely physical standpoint, they did look better together). They were both more highbrow--art, literature, etc. while Raft was into gambling and mob dealings. So I'm also wondering if that's where a lot of Raft's animosity came from. But at the end of the shooting, Marlene gave them both gold watches with a message incribed. She walked away from the whole thing amused. I guess she was used to men fighting over her all the time.
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Post by pktrekgirl »

markbeckuaf wrote:You asked fer it, you got it!

*FIVE STAR FINAL Amazing performance by Eddie G in this scandal sheet expose.
*LITTLE CAESAR While the film overall is not as good as two other definitive gangster films made around the same time (PUBLIC ENEMY, SCARFACE), the reason to watch this film (over and over again!) is Robinson. He establishes his gangster/tough guy persona which, like Cagney in PUBLIC ENEMY, kind of stuck him in a rut with roles, but he did have the chance to branch out a bit and when he did, he showed that he could do so much more. But his gangster persona is great too!
*TWO SECONDS Tight, short film, Eddie is fantastic!
*SMART MONEY Only film that featured by Eddie and Cagney together, shame they never did it again. Cagney has a lesser role, but it's cool to see, and Eddie is great naturally!
*THE HATCHET MAN Eddie plays an Asian character, and if you buy into that, it's a great film.
*TIGER SHARK WB made a million films with this as the essential plot, and they re-did it somewhat in MANPOWER, too. Eddie's performance is really great.
*THE LITTLE GIANT This is the first of several gangster "spoof" films that Eddie did, and I love them all, with this one perhaps being the best. Hilarious send-up, and Eddie got to show his flair for comedy.
*SILVER DOLLAR Great performance and led to Eddie playing several other bio pics.
*THE MAN WITH TWO FACES
*THE WHOLE TOWN'S TALKING (in both of these films, Eddie gets to play dual roles, sort of)
*BULLETS OR BALLOTS First of several pairings with Bogie. Also Eddie's on the side of the law, much like Cagney with G-MEN around the same time, they switched the leads over to the law, but still had violent films about gangsters LOL Way to evade the code's restrictions. The scene where Eddie finds out something critical to the plot, while riding in a cab, is one of the best in film history, IMO.
*KID GALAHAD Eddie's a boxing promoter and his only film appearance with Bette Davis
*A SLIGHT CASE OF MURDER Yet another of Eddie's gangster spoofs, this one really cracks me up!
*THE AMAZING DR. CLITTERHOUSE A gangster spoof, but different in that Eddie is not the gangster, but a doctor with a weird theory who gets mixed up with them. I love this one!
*THE SEA WOLF Incredible performance! With Garfield.
*MANPOWER natch
*UNHOLY PARTNERS Simply riveting performance by Eddie.
*LARCENY, INC. With Jane Wyman. Another gangster spoof, another winner!
*TAMPICO By no means a great film, but it's a nice slice of life film, and a very sweet love story for Eddie amidst WWII and spies.
*DOUBLE INDEMNITY There is a lot more going on here than Eddie's character, but he really makes the film way better than it might otherwise have been. This was the shift point in his career where he would sometimes play more character roles, or leads in B productions.
*Both of Fritz Lang's films: THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW and SCARLET STREET are must viewing, with the latter being a bit better.
*THE RED HOUSE Another riveting performance
*KEY LARGO This film is a winner on many levels, but Eddie's return to the gangster role that defined much of his career, and doing it in such a dramatic fashion is a must-see! His opening shot, with the camera panning over the bathroom to the tub, the fan, and finally Eddie's mug, bigger than life, stogie hanging out of his mouth, is priceless!
*THE NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES* Off-beat tale and role for Eddie, fascinated me.
*TIGHT SPOT with Ginger Rogers.
*A BULLET FOR JOEY Another pairing with Raft
*NIGHTMARE Another off-beat film, Eddie grounds it for us in this one.


I'm not sure that will help you or not! :) I love more than on this list too, but going through his filmography, I'd say these are all winners for sure!
Mark
Thanks for this great rundown, Mark!

I have seen several of those:
LITTLE CAESAR
BULLETS OR BALLOTS
THE AMAZING DR CLITTERHOUSE
DOUBLE INDEMNITY
KEY LARGO

And I've seen some others - mostly films he made with Bogie (BROTHER ORCHID, for example - which I thought was a very unusual role!) and THE STRANGER (I loved him as the good guy!) and a few others.

I recently grabbed TAMPICO off of FMC, and I also have MANPOWER, KID GALAHAD, THE LITTLE GIANT, A BULLET FOR JOEY, THE SEA WOLF, TIGER SHARK, THE HATCHET MAN, WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, and LARCENY, INC. sitting in my stacks....along with the couple I just got from you and some others not on your list! And I actually grabbed a couple of his later performances over the weekend, I think!

Maybe I'll start with WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, MANPOWER, and THE LITTLE GIANT. Does that sound like a good place to begin given the ones I've already seen?

I am embarrassed to say that I do not own a copy of FIVE STAR FINAL - I'll have to get ahold of that one soon, cus I assume it is at the top of your list for *some* reason! :P And I know I don't own a couple of others of those...although I'd have to check which ones. I don't think I have SILVER DOLLAR either.....

Anyway, thanks for the tips - I love chatting with people who are experts at a star that I don't know all that much about! This has been very helpful!
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Post by Bogie »

I've seen many of those Eddie G movies that Mark listed and I have to say I love every single one of them. Whenever I find a movie on the schedule with Eddie G in it I immediately gravitate to it. The only movie he was in that I don't care for is Soylent Green which I believe was his last movie.
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Post by pktrekgirl »

^ And which was on just the other night. :lol:

I didn't watch it...but I burned it to DVD to take a look at later.

Like when I'm retired. :lol:
My wife said she'd help young people, ... That's what I'd do. Help young people, then buy a big motor home and get out of town.
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klondike

Post by klondike »

A great, fun old horse of a film, of the lunchbox noir variety.
Especially, I always dug the department store hi-jinx, and the escalating feud between Hale & Bond.
Script-wise, I feel there's a lot more pay-off with Pat O'Brien & Hank Fonda in Slim (also centering on rivalry between power linemen!), and as for blue-collar period camaraderie, and gritty, on-the-job tension, I'd sooner recommend They Drive By Night, also with George Raft, Frank McHugh & Alan Hale, along with Ida & Bogie, no less!
But hey, back on Manpower, wasn't that the movie we had a glimpse of, from behind the cameras, in Beatty's Bugsy?
I thin' it was, Roosie!
:wink:
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Post by MissGoddess »

PKGirl---Mark was right on the money with his suggestions, and I'll just throw in my two cents for Tiger Shark and Little Giant. The latter is truly hilarious and I'm glad someone pointed out Tiger Shark as the genesis of Manpower---and directed by Howard Hawks, no less! It's actually a first rate film on its own with Zita Johann, an actress I never saw before, giving a very moving performance. Manpower is almost a playful send-up of this more serious movie.

Yes, they goofed on the delightfully oafish Ward Bond but good in Manpower, ha ha!
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Post by jdb1 »

MissGoddess wrote:The latter is truly hilarious and I'm glad someone pointed out Tiger Shark as the genesis of Manpower---and directed by Howard Hawks, no less! It's actually a first rate film on its own with Zita Johann, an actress I never saw before, giving a very moving performance.
MissG, Zita Johann was a stage actress who was born in Romania, and who was married for a few years to John Houseman (he was also Romanian, though raised in England). It was through Johann that Houseman got involved in the theater in New York, and eventually in film. She was the reincarnated Egyptian princess who got Boris Karloff so worked up in "The Mummy" (1932). I thought she was really beautiful.
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