|Try telling that to a landlord or a loan shark. See how far it gets you.|
The flick: Money Means Nothing (Monogram Pictures, 1934) [buy the set]
Current IMDb rating: 5.4
Director: Christy Cabanne (The Mummy's Hand; uncredited fill-in director on Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ [1925 version]; known for being prolific rather than talented; directed Life of Villa and The Life of General Villa, both featuring the real-life Pancho Villa)
|Ford as "Phroso"|
|The hero, heroine, and comic foil.|
My take: Oh, goddammit. Another truck hijacking movie, Mill Creek? Wasn't The Gang's All Here enough? Money Means Nothing was made by cheapskate Monogram Pictures, so it probably always looked and sounded pretty crummy, but time has been particularly cruel to this thoroughly mediocre film, making the viewing experience even less pleasurable. The DVD version was clearly made from a clumsy VHS transfer, which in turn was mastered from a scratchy, badly faded print. The picture is so faint at times that the actors almost become invisible. But even if this film were given a meticulous, frame-by-frame restoration, it still wouldn't be any good. Apart from one pretty neat tracking shot (all but ruined by the DVD transfer), Christy Cabanne's direction is very flat-footed and unimaginative. Some poor dubbing adds to the film's technical woes.
The script, which was "suggested" by a stage play, is very contrived and takes an unwelcome turn into melodrama about halfway through before morphing into a half-assed thriller. The leads are merely adequate. There is no reason to believe that Gloria Shea's vivacious character would fall instantly in love with an uninspiring dullard like Wallace Ford's tire salesman, simply because he makes a few limp wisecracks on the night of their first meeting. In all honesty, the rich girl is making a huge mistake by marrying this man and forsaking the family fortune, and the movie miscalculates badly by turning her into a noble martyr when she started the film as a fun-loving free spirit. In short, this film is a chore to watch. Perhaps the best thing I can say about this movie is that at least the hero and heroine share a double bed. A lot of the married couples in these movies have had separate twin beds... and even separate bedrooms!
|The Greens are especially bad neighbors.|
My grade: C-
P.S. - No negative African-American stereotypes, but there are some questionable Jewish stereotypes, the first of their kind in this set. The Silvermans (Holtz and Brody) run a pawn shop where Julie goes to pawn the fur coat she got from her family at that fateful birthday party. The film portrays the elderly couple in a (basically) positive light, which is nice, but these characters border on cartoonish in their speech and mannerisms. So this is kind of a gray area.