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Monday, February 15, 2021

The Big Street (1942)

A busboy (Henry Fonda) in a nightclub is infatuated with a selfish gold digging nightclub singer (Lucille Ball). When she is seriously injured in a fall that leaves her unable to walk and in a wheelchair, he takes her in. But this doesn't change her rude self centered ways and she treats him poorly but he still adores her. Based on the story LITTLE PINKS by Damon Runyon and directed by Irving Reis (BACHELOR AND THE BOBBYSOXER). Runyon produced the film so it keeps the Runyonesque atmosphere quite well. The film is populated with characters named Willie The Weeper and Horsethief and Nicely Nicely (who shows up in GUYS AND DOLLS). Henry Fonda is too good looking and confident for the adoring busboy but this is Ball's best screen performance. She manages to be brassy and hard bitten yet still show her fear and vulnerability at what will happen to her when she's crippled. Ball and Fonda's walking trip from New York to Florida for her health conjures up MIDNIGHT COWBOY and one can't help but wonder if its author James Leo Herlihy had seen the movie. I found the tearjerker ending a bit much but the whole thing rang of implausibility. Definitely worth seeing for Ball's performance however. With Agnes Moorehead, Eugene Pallette, Sam Levene, Barton MacLane, Ray Collins and Marion Martin. 

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