Saturday, December 31, 2016
The 12 Days of Regis Toomey: They Never Come Back (1932)
Dammit Reeg, why'd you have to appear in a sports movie?! I hate these things! Oh well, I sat through Rocky just fine, so I guess I can make it through They Never Come Back...
Boxer Jimmy Nolan learns just before a big fight that his mother has died, and during the punch-up in the ring, he's so distracted he not only loses, but his arm is badly injured, leaving his future in the sport uncertain. He takes up a job as a bouncer in a friend's nightclub, but unfortunately the owner, Jerry Filmore, has it in for him, especially when Jimmy and dancer Adele fall in love. Filled with a jealous and self-entitled rage, the villain has Jimmy framed for theft, with the unwilling help of Adele's brother Ralph, who owes Filmore several thousand dollars. Adele keeps her faith in Jimmy, and after several months in jail, he's released, much to Filmore's chagrin. He continues trying to ruin Jimmy's life, but the young man refuses to give in, even regaining his boxing career in a new match...
The Never Come back starts off as a pretty sweet movie, but takes a turn for the depressing once Jimmy is framed. Thankfully this isn't so much a sports film and more of a general drama, with romance elements. Come to think of it, there's more ring action in Night of the Bloody Apes than there is in this boxing movie! What the hell?!
The title sounded like a downer at first until I realized that it's a subversion on the saying.
The pacing is quite decent, but crippled by the hour-long runtime. Halfway into the movie, and we've only seen the romance between Jimmy and Adele. There's still Jimmy getting framed, going to jail, spending some time imprisoned, coming out, rebuilding his boxing career, and rekindling his romance with Adele, all in under 30 minutes! The movie does what it can, and it almost pulls it off, until the mess of a climax.
The ending bothered me. It has Jimmy earning all this money, only to give it all to Filmore in order to pay off Ralph's debt. This is basically like giving Mr. Potter from it's a Wonderful Life even more money, in the hopes that it'll make him become good and solve everyone's problems. He's not going to change! The underhanded dick is just gonna pocket the money, then pretend he never got it, and accuse Ralph of theft anyway. He is that unscrupulous after all! And it's so 'nice' that the money Jimmy earned will be going to a 'good cause'! The dude's probably gonna use it to burn down orphanages with Count Olaf! From that point on, the ending is a rushed-as-all-hell clusterfudge, with a huge brawl (between people who all look the same) that the movie seems to think resolved everything, when it did nothing of the sort, and probably made things worse!
Regis Toomey is all smiles in this movie, and feels more natural than earlier performances, doing a decent job. Nothing can dampen his joy in this movie! He's still chipper even after his mother's just died and when he's in jail. The character is fine at first, but briefly becomes intensely unlikeable when he gets out of prison and sees Adele in the presence of Filmore, immediately thinking the worst of her, even to the point of telling (not asking) his sister that she's moving out of Adele's apartment. Thankfully, due to the aforementioned fast pacing in the latter half-hour, Jimmy makes up for his behaviour relatively quickly. The rest of the characters are pretty flat and one-dimensional for the most part, but the actors do a decent job of carrying them.
The direction here is ok. There's a bizarrely edited boxing match though, with lots of sped-up footage, perhaps as an attempt to make the fight choreography look less embarrassing? Well if so, it's a resounding failure!
The score is ok. Not so great in some points though, like the strange twangy Hawaiian luau music in one scene. Not sure if it's the fault of the sound quality, or if the music sounded that bad already.
They Never Come Back is a weak drama, and an even weaker boxing movie. Worth watching for the performers, but not much else...