Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Outer Gate (1937), Raymond Cannon.

This B is leavened with a little more creativity than usual for Monogram.  Young Bob Terry is convicted of embezzlement, and his future father-in-law John Borden decides to stick to the logical facts rather than trust in his personal knowledge of Terry's good character.  Terry's in the slammer for five years until the truth of his innocence is revealed and he is pardoned.  When he gets out, an opportunity arises for him to frame Borden for embezzlement in revenge!   Will he do it?  The scenarios are pretty far-fetched, but supporting actors are strong: Kay Linaker, playing Bob's girlfriend, brings dignity and the line, "Aww, come on, Bob.  You're young, white and twenty-one!" and endearing prison pal is played by B stalwart Eddie Acuff.  There's an unusual nightclub scene that has a very improvisational feel to it: a man performing animal impressions tries unsuccessfully to fend of an annoying drunk.  "One jackass at a time!" he begs, before launching into a harmonica performance.

This film does better than most Monograms which can be painfully tedious to watch, made up of nothing but stagnant medium shots.  There's greater variety of camera shots and angles, and, as can be seen in the screenshot above, some use of dramatic lighting.

From  the Alamo theatre in Washington, DC is plastered with ads for The Outer Gate (1937).   Photo by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration.

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