Big City Blues Film Details
Overview: Young man from small town moves to New York City looking for better life.
Tagline: It’s Sweet and Hot!
Review: BIG CITY BLUES (Warner Brothers, 1932), directed by Mervyn LeRoy, is a Depression era melodrama without the focus on the unemployed in breadlines or the homeless struggling to survive, but a cliché story about the survival of a country boy who ventures to the big city, the “Big Apple,” better known as New York. Starring Joan Blondell, her role is actually secondary but crucial to the plot, while the Eric Linden, whose name comes below hers, is the central focus. The story revolves around Buddy Reeves (Eric Linden), a naive country boy from Hoopersville, Indiana. After inheriting $1100, he decides to fulfill his dream by coming to live in the greatest city in the world, New York. Unable to take his dog, Duke, with him, Buddy offers the pooch to a Willow Junction station master (Grant Mitchell), who accepts the animal only as a loan, knowing full well, that he will do exactly what he did as a youth, by venturing to the big city only to return home disillusioned. However, Buddy believes different, especially since he only has a one way ticket. Upon his arrival at Grand Central Station, Buddy, as he carries his suitcases, strolls down with amazement the busy streets surrounded by the “rush, tension and crowds.” He registers at the Hotel Hercules, room 3663, where his Cousin Gibbony (Walter Catlett) enters the scene to teach him the ropes in becoming a true New Yorker as well as fast-talking his way in acquiring some of his money. Gibbony, a comedic con-artist who claims to know the most important people in town, ranging from Mayor Jimmy Walker to actress Constance Bennett, arranges for the young lad to be introduced to a handful of his friends by having an all night party to take place in Buddy’s hotel room. That evening, Buddy becomes infatuated with an attractive show girl named Vida Fleet (Joan Blondell). During this very active party, which consists of radio background music to current hit tunes as “My baby Just Cares for Me,” Lem Sully (Lyle Talbot), actor and drunk, along with globetrotter Shep Atkins (Humphrey Bogart) get into an argument over the drunken Jackie DeVoe (Josephine Dunn), a Follies girl. A physical fight ensues, leading to a whiskey bottle being thrown across the room, hitting the head of Jackie, causing her death. Suddenly the room is quiet. All the guests make a hasty departure, especially Vida, leaving Buddy to be faced with a possible murder charge. Breaking away as Hummell, the house detective (Guy Kibbee) enters to discover the body, Buddy hides amongst the crowded city, hoping to avoid being arrested by Quelkin (Thomas Jackson) of the homicide squad, who is hot on his trail. Others in the cast consist of Inez Courtney as Faun; Ned Sparks as Stackhouse; Jobyna Howland (in her Marjorie Rambeau-type performance) as Mrs. Cartlidge, the 55 Club speakeasy “madame”, along with interesting assortment of notable actors assuming no screen credit, including Josephine Dunn (Al Jolson’s co-star in 1928’s THE SINGING FOOL); J. Carroll Naish as a bootlegger; Herman Bing as a German waiter; Clarence Muse as the black singing waiter vocalizing “Every Day Can Be a Sunday”; and the heard but not seen Dick Powell as the radio announcer advertising Yum Yum Popcorn. Eric Linden is ideally cast as naive but vulnerable young lad, along with Blondell in her usual street smart, tough but loyal girlfriend performance. They would be reunited once more in race-car drama, THE CROWD ROARS (1932) starring James Cagney. Of the supporting players, it is Walter Catlett sporting glasses, derby and cigar (a cross between comedians Groucho Marx and Robert Woolsey), the scene stealer who livens things up. With so much happening during its brisk and brief 65 minutes, BIG CITY BLUES moves as quickly as any speeding cars or pedestrians depicted on screen. Along with other then current New York sounding film titles, MANHATTAN PARADE (1931), CENTRAL PARK (1932), 42nd STREET (1933), just to name a few, no other movie studio like Warners captures the feel and essence of New York City life, and BIG CITY BLUES is no exception. Not as well known as the more famous New York movies of this period, it’s worth catching whenever presented during the late night hours on Turner Classic Movies.(**1/2)
Duration: 63 min
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Also known as: Blues wielkiego miasta,Big City Blues