Awwwwww, WH is a baby in this one! I thought he looked young in Arizona and Texas, even though this is only a year or two before, he just looks unbelievably young!
I really enjoyed this movie. Of course I'm a sucker for anything with a music theme, and this one gave it to me nicely, with its story of a young man who wants success and money now, and trades studying to be a concert violinst for prizefighting. WH is convincing as both. When he finds the violin his father bought him as a present and his eyes light up and he starts playing... gotta be my favorite scene. All his family come in to listen, his sister (who is a total crack up -- love her) accompanying him on the piano. This is exactly the emotions about music I grew up with, and it made me tear up. It's funny, cuz I was just talking with a friend about how classic movies seem to nail what music means emotionally to people who really love it, and I haven't yet found that in a modern film. Maybe because it's simply too sappy or too melodramatic and immersive for today's audiences, but you know what? That's how it feels. Well, at least for me!
Once WH's character Joe got involved with the very scary gangster, I was actually afraid worse things were going to happen to the characters than actually did. He made a few threats that had me really worried. I was actually relieved that none of that happened.
The rest of the cast fit perfectly, and I like the way the movie dovetailed their various subplots. Sure it works out in the end, but there's some nice escalations and stakes-raising... perfect examples of how to twist a bad situation and make it worse. Barbara Stanwyck (I soooo want to steal one of her dresses from the movie!) is lovely and sassy and pushy and repetant. I admire her more and more. And I loved Lee J. Cobb as his father. He reminds me of some of my Italian relatives.
DVD had some nice extras too. A cartoon, short feature, news reel stuff, and a Barbara Stanwyck Western show that was fun (though way too predictable).
And I'm making a pot of the family spaghetti sauce for dinner tonight, to go with the Italian theme. Yum.