Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


TALES OF MANHATTAN (1942). Director: Julien Duvuvier.

This very entertaining film is a series of tales connected by a tailcoat that proves lucky or disastrous for whoever wears it, including an actor (Charles Boyer) who is in love with a married woman (Rita Hayworth); a man (Cesar Romero) who is about to get married and who has a jealous fiancee (Ginger Rogers) and a friend (Henry Fonda) who tries to help him; a musician (Charles Laughton) whose wife (Elsa Lanchester) gets him the tailcoat to wear on the night he conducts his symphony, to disastrous [and somewhat unlikely] results; and a down-on-his luck lawyer (Edward G. Robinson) who wears the coat to a reunion of his ivy league college buddies who have no idea of how far he's fallen. The final sequence stars Paul Robeson, Ethel Waters, and Eddie Anderson in a charming tale of poor folk [who are not exactly in Manhattan] who have to decide how to spend the money that falls out of the tailcoat. A brief but amusing sequence with W. C. Fields [appearing with Margaret Dumont!] lecturing society folk was cut out for the initial theatrical release, but has been wisely reinstated. The entire cast is good, with special honors going to Boyer, Robinson, and Fields.

Verdict: Who knew a movie about a coat could be such fun? ***.

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