The Cautious Revolution: Britain Today and Tomorrow

By Ernest Watkins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
Anglo-American Relations

I would produce as Exhibit A the following criticism of an American film shown in London in the fall of 1949. The criticism is from the News Chronicle of October 8:

Last week Mr. Humphrey Bogart found his soul as a night club proprietor, which moved me to award that profession second place for general democratic glamour. A little thought, however, has caused a slight adjustment of the award.

Here is my list of those callings wherein, according to Hollywood, the American dream of male success materialises in all fullness and glory. In order of precedence they are: gambler, show producer, advertising agent, night club operator, orchestra leader.

In the crowd, well below these symbolistic figures, come reporters, private detectives, undercover men, crooners, piano concerto players, war heroes, composers, plain and fancy business men, plain and fancy racketeers, etc., etc., etc. Creatures of glamour certainly, but lacking the fundamental nerve, insouciance, freedom and solid glamour of the big five.

Any Number Can Play . . . is the gambler's apothesis. Its hero, Charley Kyng (Clark Gable), is surely the American model man, iron nerved, uxorious and white through and through. The gambling joint where his worshipping home-loving underlings wear black ties and jackets and striped trousers, is run with more decorum than a reception at the White House. And Charley can't bear to see his clients suffer and will stake them or give them their car fare home when they are cleaned out. . . .

Charley's model son is the only person in the film who doesn't love him. He is ashamed of his father's profession. To this surly pugnosed young man--whose hoarse voice and lack of manners mark him as the ideal collegiate type--Charley desperately explains that all American business is gambling and that it's something to be a clean gambler.

But it is not until he sees Charley stake everything on one throw of the dice and beat off a couple of gunmen that the pristine nature of Charley's

-351-

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