Thursday, May 14, 2015

"Other Men's Women": an early "pre-code" sound picture does some spectacle with trains

Other Men’s Women” (1931, directed by William A. Wellman, Warner Brothers) is a brief (70 minutes) but surprisingly effective black-and-white drama film, “pre-code” in the early “talking pictures” period, with two train wrecks, a pertinent topic right now.

The story concerns a steam locomotive railroad engineer Bill (Grant Withers) who gets into a competition with co-worker Jack (Regis Toomey) for the same woman Lily (Mary Astor).  A fight leads to a small train wreck (at the film’s mid point) where the caboose on their train from a merging branch track is struck by another locomotive, and Jack, injured, is blinded.  But later, in a storm resulting in massive flooding, Jack save’s Bill’s life, before being wiped away in a river when a bridge collapses as the train crosses it (shades of “The Cassandra Crossing” in 1977).

The film, following the practice of early “sound” film of the time, has very little background music.

The DVD has a Merrie Meldies short “You Don’t Know What You’re Doin’” demonstrating racism of the times.  

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