A journeyman who started out in 1917 making two-reelers for Hal Roach, Alfred Santell covered a wide range of material before directing his final film, That Brennan Girl, in 1946. He would end his career following a contract dispute with Republic one year later in 1947. For his last film, he created a turbulent coming of age story about a vibrant young woman named Ziggy (Mona Freeman). Fighting, scheming and pleading her way out of poverty and trouble, she tries to make her mark in the world. Along the way she meets criminally-minded James Dunn (in one of his final big-screen roles before moving to television), his mother (Dorothy Vaughan), and a kind and loving soldier (William Marshall). Like in his previous Republic film Mexicana, Santell leaves room for the extraneous details, such as showing a man’s intricate watch or the entire process of Dunn’s furniture delivery scheme. The camera is always one step ahead of the fast-moving characters and there’s an ingenuity and spark in each and every choice made by Santell and cinematographer Jack A. Marta. In turn, a full and vivid world is created, one that moves at the same pace as its characters, whether it’s Freeman effortlessly gliding through a dance club or Vaughan quietly rocking in her chair as she gives advice to her man-child son. As the movie progresses and Ziggy has to contend with some of life’s (and especially women’s) harsh realities, the camerawork and frenetic pace of the film take on a new tone, heightening the melodrama and conveying how trapped Ziggy is, despite her best efforts to break free.
Cast and Credits
Sog.: dal racconto di Adela Rogers St. Johns. Scen.: Doris Anderson. F.: Jack A. Marta. M.: Arthur Roberts. Scgf.: James Sullivan. Mus.: George Antheil. Int.: James Dunn (Denny Reagan), Mona Freeman (Ziggy Brennan), William Marshall (Mart Neilson), June Duprez (Natalie Brennan), Frank Jenks (Joe), Dorothy Vaughan (signora Reagan), Charles Arnt (Fred), Rosalind Ivan (signora Merryman), Fay Helm (Helen), Bill Kennedy (Arthur). Prod.: Alfred Santell per Republic Pictures Corp. DCP. D.: 95’. Bn.
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