John Sullivan, played by Joel McCrea, is an unfulfilled, yet successful Hollywood director. He wants to shift from making frivolous comedies to make a serious movie about the troubles of the poor, but he’s advised against it. His lack of experience with poverty is an obstacle he’s willing to overcome for the sake of his art.
He dresses as a tramp and naively investigates what it’s like to be homeless. While incognito, he meets a girl, Veronica Lake, and her kindness traps him emotionally. He can’t let her give up on her dreams in Hollywood. He admits to her who he really is, but she persuades him to let her join in his adventure. She dresses as a boy and puts her hair in a hat. They wander among the homeless, get their fill of it, and go back to his reality.
Ignited by his experiences, he dresses like a tramp again to distribute money to those in the homeless community who were nice to him. However, after making mistakes, he finds himself left for dead on a train headed for who knows where. John slides into more trouble than he can manage and ends up in prison (a labor camp) where he finds out what trouble is all about. But now that he knows trouble, he can’t get out.
While in prison, he encounters a church filled with kind-hearted people. That scene triggers an enduring change in him. Upon his return to Hollywood, his friends find him transformed.
This movie is supposed to be a comedy, but I was swimming in all the serious conflict. The movie I watched seemed like the movie John Sullivan wanted to make. Entertaining, yet a statement movie.
After this movie, Veronica Lake was paired with shorter leading men since she was 4’ 11” and was dwarfed by Joel McCrea’s height at 6’3”.
This movie touches on the same theme as Cary Grant’s movie I reviewed last year.