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Hot-tempered Kathleen Maguire enlists the services of a young attorney to help her zookeeper father get his job back after he is fired for political reasons. In the midst of uncovering local political corruption and dealing with a lion that's escaped from the zoo, the two manage to fall in love.Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Reformer and the Redhead is a poor man's version of a combination of State of the Union and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington on a more local level. Dick Powell is an ambitious attorney who was raised in an orphanage and now aspires to be mayor of his small California town. On the campaign trail he meets June Allyson, redheaded daughter of Cecil Kellaway who was fired from his job as zookeeper.
Through them he learns some interesting facts about the creation of the zoo and after some research he uses his knowledge to blackjack the local boss, Ray Collins, to support his candidacy. Of course when that comes to the attention of June Allyson it throws a great big shadow on their relationship.
My guess is that Mr. and Mrs. Powell got this one because Tracy and Hepburn turned it down. As well they should have because I don't think that even their presence could have made it a classic. Politics has and always will be the art of compromise. Powell has certain goals in mind for his community and he can achieve them with Collins' support. In the real world, Powell's silence should have satisfied all concerned. It's like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington in that just why was it so important for James Stewart to have his national boys camp at that location where it was interfering with some pet graft scheme of Edward Arnold. It's the weakness of that film and it's an even more glaring weakness in this film.
In a way The Reformer and the Redhead is also a looking glass version of an aspect of All the King's Men. In that one an upright judge who is now the Attorney General of that state through some diligent research by John Ireland is blackmailed by Broderick Crawford and kills himself. Just what is the role of blackmail in our political system.
The more serious questions The Reformer and the Redhead raises are smothered over with some comedy concerning June and Cecil's bizarre collection of ailing zoo animals, including a lion named Herman they keep as a house cat. I can't really blame Powell for that, I have a neighbor who has kept an alligator for one for years. I've seen Albert the Alligator from a very discreet distance.
The Reformer and the Redhead is good, not great, but entertaining enough in the comedy department. But it leaves more questions unanswered when dealing with the more serious aspects of the film.
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