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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Night After Night (1932)

A mobster (George Raft) who owns a plush speakeasy wants to move up in society. To that end, he's hired a teacher (Alison Skipworth) to teach him etiquette and manners. He finds himself attracted to an elegant high class lady (Constance Cummings) but she's rather condescending toward him. Based on a short story by Louis Bromfield (THE RAINS CAME), this pre-code melodrama is surprisingly enjoyable. I've never been much of a fan of Raft's tough guy act but there's something boyishly charming about his eagerness to better himself in his scenes with Skipworth. There's an aura of sadness among the three leads, all of whom are looking for something. In addition to Raft and Cummings, there's Wynne Gibson's crass moll who's hopelessly in love with Raft, who doesn't reciprocate the feeling. But what the movie is most famous for is the film debut of Mae West as one of Raft's old flames. The movie is about half over before she comes charging in and steals the movie and it was the last time (until MYRA BRECKINRIDGE) that she would support anybody. Directed by Archie Mayo. With Louis Calhern and Roscoe Karns.

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