Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Films I've Overlooked: Kid Galahad (1937)

I was always thought Kid Galahad was just an Elvis movie (albeit an above-average Elvis movie, because it had fighting built into the storyline and supporting cast members who could actually act). Boy, was I wrong.

The real Kid Galahad is this 1937 classic, while the Elvis vehicle is only a pale imposter.

This one has rock-solid performances from Robinson, Davis and Bogart, some fine directing from Michael Curtiz, and a screenplay I can’t kick about. And there are some pretty cool fight scenes. It’s an all-around entertaining film, and I’m ashamed to admit I discovered it only recently.

Robinson is definitely the star here. The story is his more than anyone else’s. But Bette Davis runs a close second, and while Bogie got third billing, he’s really only incidental. Wayne Morris, as the innocent farm boy/bellhop Kid Galahad, gets more screen and story time.

Bogart is great, of course, in what little role he has. He’s the bad-guy fight manager handling the current heavyweight champ, and the guy who stands in the way of Robinson taking the title for a fighter of his own. Bette Davis plays Fluff, Robinson’s long-time girl, who knows she’ll never be as important to him as the fight game.

Enter Wayne Morris, the bellhop who smacks down the Champ to defend Fluff’s honor, and Kid Galahad is born. Robinson finally has high hopes of taking the title away from Bogart.

Naturally, something gets in the way of that goal, and that something is love. Before long they’re caught in a triangle with an extra angle, as Robinson is in love with Davis, Davis with Galahad, and Galahad with Robinson’s sister. Thankfully, the writers stopped there, or we might have had Robinson’s sister in love with Bogart and Bogart in love with Robinson.

Also thankfully, the love stuff stops short of being sappy, and the film ends on a down beat, with violence and death. Elvis could have used more of that in his version.

Find films other folks have overlooked each week at this time at Sweet Freedom


Rittster said...

Fluff--classic name.

Ron Scheer said...

Nice review, and what a great combination: Robinson and Davis. Imagine stepping out of a theatre after watching the film with several hundred movie-goers, and it was 1937. What a time.

Cap'n Bob said...

When I was a kid I'd stay up and watch The Late Show, The Late, Late Show, and The Late, Late, Late Show often. I saw all the old classics eventually.