Other Men’s Women (1931)

Turn we now to the third volume of Forbidden Hollywood, the all-Wellman edition. Six films, none of which I’ve seen and only two of which I’d even heard of or knew the slightest thing about, so I went into this pretty much cold, and was interested to see James Cagney’s name in the credits. I now find this was only his third film, and his part is a small one, but stardom would beckon soon enough. Our actual stars are Grant Withers and Regis Toomey as Bill and Jack, a pair of railroad men, the former a bit of a pisshead and the latter a happily settled family man. Jack invites Bill to live at his place in the hopes that he’ll settle a bit, too; given that Jack is married, of course, it’s kind of surprising that he apparently doesn’t foresee Bill’s presence becoming the problem that it does. Childhood friendship goes sour, melodrama ensues, etc. Gets off to a slightly surprising start (I’ve seen early talkies with no closing music, but I don’t think I’ve seen one without opening music before), generally moves better than quite a few 1930-shot films I’ve seen (though like almost every other early talkie I’ve seen a good music score would’ve helped it), and comes to a pretty good ending, but something makes it fall short of success… and, as a few reviews I’ve read indicate, it’s probably the two leads; I think this review is overly ungenerous, but the roles certainly could’ve had more charismatic performers in them. Like, you know, the aforementioned J. Cagney, who gets probably the best scene in the film where he rocks up after work at the local dancehall still in his uniform, which he then removes to reveal formal evening wear underneath. Wellman obviously saw something in him, cos he retained him for his next film, The Public Enemy, and promoted him to the lead role there…

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