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Off the Record

Off the Record(1939)


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Off the Record (1939)

This 1939 picture combines crime film and family comedy, a mixture that works largely thanks to the unflagging professionalism and verve of its two stars, Joan Blondell and Pat O'Brien. As a gangster film, a genre in which Warner Bros. had led the way for most of Hollywood, it details fast-talking reporter Blondell's efforts to prove herself by exposing a juke-box racket in a series of articles that send small-time hood Alan Baxter to prison and his brother, Dead End Kid Bobby Jordan, to reform school. Feeling guilty over what her reporting has done to Jordan, Blondell accepts fellow reporter O'Brien's marriage proposal so they can adopt and reform the young tough, paving the way for more domestic scenes as they set up home with their instant family. After almost a decade in the movies, Blondell and O'Brien were experts at parts like these. Wise-cracking was practically the official language of Warner Bros., and the two could trade quips and insults the way championship boxers trade blows. But they also had the heart to lend some weight to the film's family scenes as they sincerely attempt to show Jordan a better way of life.

By Frank Miller

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