Saturday, May 18, 2013

THE MIND READER (1933)

Down and nearly out hucksters Warren William and Allen Jenkins hit the jackpot when they come up with the idea of changing their carnival act to a psychic mind reader.  Almost immediately they're rolling in cash and life is sitting pretty until Warren falls for an innocent girl who actually believes in his psychic powers.

Made in 1933, THE MIND READER is one of the last Pre-Code films and although it's extremely tame today's standards it's pretty easy to see how this film could have irked the morality police.  The entire mood of the film is dismissive towards the public in general; one of the main ways the psychic makes money is from talking about cheating husbands; a carnival worker discusses the negative part about messing with girls on the road by saying “The minute they get in court, they’re all 16 and under!” and then when one guy is sent to prison he says “It sure must be tough to be going away just when beer’s coming back!”; one girl is upset that the psychics advise ruined her marriage so she opens an elevator shaft door and jumps to her death!  Wow.

For those interested in films from this era THE MIND READER is a lot of fun and it still feels kinda modern in a weird way.  Strong performances, daring script, the underrated Allen Jenkins, quick pace, Mayo Methot before she married Humphrey Bogart.  Recommended.