Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Crowd Roars

The Crowd Roars; Drama, USA, 1932; D: Howard Hawks, S: James Cagney, Ann Dvorak, Eric Linden, Joan Blondell, Frank McHugh, Billy Arnold

Indianapolis champion Joe Greer is returning to his hometown with a train. He has a relationship with Lee, who is constantly persuading him to quit his race car profession because he can get seriously injured. When arriving home, Joe is at first hesitant to help his little brother Eddie become a race car driver too, but in the end complies. When Eddie falls in love with the blond Anne, who is infamously only after men's money, Joe breaks up every contact with him. During a race, a Connor's car explodes, and from there on Joe is too fearful to attend any race. Broke and lonely, he finally joins Eddie in a major race and wins, even though their car's tire falls apart.

Shot in the early days of Howard Hawks' career, sports drama "The Crowd Roars" is one of his weaker films, a rightfully forgotten film that doesn't have much to seize the attention of the audience, except for the race fans. It's a competently made, but mild and standard film revolving around the world of race car drivers and their rivalry, here played by James Cagney and Eric Linden. Mostly, it plays out just as a bland story without inspiration, but here and there the charming Joan Blondell steals every scene she is in as the wisecracking blond Anne who never passes out an opportunity to ridicule the main protagonist Joe. Hawks famously once said what it takes to make a great film: "Three good scenes, no bad scenes". There are no bad scenes here, but there are also only two half-good scenes: the one is when Connor's car explodes and starts a fire on the track, while the race drivers just continue to drive through it one lap after the other, while the other one is a humorous one when, after the final race, injured Joe and Eddie are racing with their opponents in two ambulance cars to the hospital, trying to be first even in such situation.


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