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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Juke Girl (1942)

Two migrant farm workers (Ronald Reagan, Richard Whorf), who are childhood best friends, find themselves on opposite ends of a fight between a Greek farmer (George Tobias) and the owner (Gene Lockhart) of the town's only packing company. Of all the major studios, in the 1930s and early 1940s Warner Brothers had a social conscience, at least in the cinematic sense. This middling effort, directed by Curtis Bernhardt (A STOLEN LIFE), combines a pro labor stance with an anti-mob violence cherry on top. Reagan gives one of his more effective performances as the rugged drifter always standing up for the underdog while Ann Sheridan (reunited with her KINGS ROW co-star) plays the title role, a good time gal aimlessly moving from town to town, afraid to commit to any one man. Actually, A.I. Bezzerides' (KISS ME DEADLY) script isn't half bad until the last quarter when the gripping power struggle gives way to a cliche found in the most routine of westerns, the lynch mob. The film could have used a stronger backbone. With Faye Emerson, Howard Da Silva, Alan Hale and Willie Best.

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