For Reel

Fixer Dugan (1939)
October 10, 2014, 6:08 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Lew Landers
3 Stars
Fixer DuganThe circus setting in many classic Hollywood films is presented nostalgically, an earnest tribute to a waning lifestyle. The acrobats, barkers, freaks, and everything in-between are a loyal bunch who wholly dedicate themselves to the show… but, naturally, the law butts its ugly head into the picture and threatens to close everything down. Lee Tracy is well cast as the fixer of one of these circuses–he’s the one in charge of public relations, a needed task when you’re running a fairly shifty operation. His stardom had fallen considerably by the late 1930s and his wisecracks didn’t come quite as fast as they used to, but Peggy Shannon is a good compliment to his familiar performance as the smart-ass. The plot involves the orphaned daughter (Virginia Weidler) of a deceased trapeze artist (a terrifically morose Rita La Roy) who is looked after by Tracy and Shannon. As with many films concerning orphans, the child is taken from the loving makeshift foster parents who spend the rest of the picture seeking to prove their worth as caretakers. Endearing as the behind-the-scenes look at the circus is (director Lew Landers capably presents a dynamic portrait of circus life), the oft-treaded melodramatic ground grows tiresome by the end.

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