For Reel

Adventure in Manhattan (1936)
June 2, 2012, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Edward Ludwig

In the year of her breakout role in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Jean Arthur was paired for the second time with Joel McCrea in Columbia Pictures’ Adventure in Manhattan. It might be plausible to suggest that the pairing was intended to be the studio’s answer to Nick and Nora Charles, however the screenplay lacks the witticisms and flirtatious banter that would elevate The Thin Man series above other similar genre pictures. McCrea plays a famously successful criminologist – so renowned, in fact, that his colleagues mean to spite him by orchestrating an elaborate hoax for the purposes of embarrassing the detective when he comes to the realization that he’s been duped. Beyond the charade, however, is a real heist in the developing stages, head by Reginald Owen, a stage producer who plans to complete his final masterstroke during the opening night of his new play. The picture is breezy and not in a hurry to trample towards its humdrum climax despite its short running time. Its best moments, in fact, are the quiet periods of time in which the characters must wait for the next move to be made by their opposing faction. Beyond a few moody set pieces of this variety, the screwball aspects are never pronounced enough to incite much more than a chuckle, and the central heist is certainly not as interesting as the relationship that develops between McCrea and Arthur, which is unfortunately put on the back burner in the second half of the picture.

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