Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Torrid Zone 1940

A fast and furious 88 minute Warner Bros. action comedy that features a great cast of WB contract actors. Set in a small Central America country with most of the action taking place on a troubled banana plantation the plot involves a not so nice Pat O'Brien who is the manager of the company and his efforts to get back his top banana foreman played by James Cagney who sports a sexy pencil thin mustache and wants no part of returning to the plantation to run things. Instead Jimmy is on his way to Chicago until O’Brien makes him an offer he can’t refuse and he gets a look at Ann Sheridan. Sheridan is her usual gorgeous self smooth and shinny with a voice to match her looks and delivers most of the good lines.  The beautiful Ann plays a nightclub singer and card sharp who is stranded in the town, and only wants to make a few bucks singing in the local club and cheating the men in cards so she can move on to greener cooler pastures. O’Brien who not only runs the company but also the town, takes a strong dislike to Ann and orders her out on the next boat. Soon they are all mixing it up on the plantation exchanging zingers which fly back and forth with the speed of bullets including many sexual barbs, and take note of all the homoerotic sexual innuendos between Cagney and O’Brien. Cagney- “Oh, Lee, (Sheridan)  if you see Case,(O’Brien)  give him a kiss for me.  Sheridan  “Not even a foreign general would kiss that guy!”  How these got by the censors I’ll never know.  Also in this Irish stew is George Tobias who plays a good hearted and somewhat lovable revolutionary who keeps escaping from prison. Andy Devine, Helen Vinson, Jerome Cowan and the always wonderful Grady Sutton round out the cast, and also look for a brief bit by George Reeves as member of Tobias’s band of bandits.  Shot by the great James Wong Howe on the Warner Bros. back lot the film looks good, in fact  better than it should with top notch art direction, (where did they get all those bananas?), and steady workman like direction by W.B in house director William Keighley


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