For Reel

Strictly Dynamite (1934)
March 9, 2014, 5:28 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Elliot Nugent
2 Stars
Strictly DynamiteIn the second of three collaborations between Jimmy Durante and Lupe Velez in 1934, Durante plays a radio star who struggles to find a gag writer. Along comes Nick (Norman Foster), a stodgy intellectual type who longs to become a great poet. Their partnership transforms Nick into an arrogant louse whose attraction to Durante’s sexpot co-star (Velez) ruins his relationship with his supportive girlfriend (Marion Nixon). In the early-goings, the script navigates some interesting territory in discussing the contradiction that is writing for profit and writing for pleasure, as well as the cynical nature of comedy writing itself (Nick is conditioned not to write new jokes, but rather endlessly recycle the old ones). There is little else worth mentioning, though, with a stilted visual style rendering the musical numbers unmemorable. The irony shouldn’t be lost on viewers that a film about a comedian looking for new jokes doesn’t itself involve very many laughs. Nixon, who gave a great performance in Frank Borzage’s After Tomorrow, is mostly wasted in the thankless role, as are the underutilized roster of supporting players (including three of the very best: Eugene Pallette, Sterling Holloway, and Franklin Pangborn).

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