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Right Cross (1950)

07 Oct

Ah, to be June Allyson. She has her pick of men in Right Cross, a boxing drama where both Dick Powell and Ricardo Montalban are deeply in love with her. Poor Dick Powell, though, doesn’t have a chance in the film, despite being married to June Allyson in actuality.

Right Cross is a boxing drama, a love triangle, and a not fully fleshed-out examination of what it means to be Hispanic American. Pat O’Malley (June Allyson) is the daughter of fight promoter Sean O’Malley (Lionel Barrymore), but runs the business for him because of his ill health. The business is on the decline, but they do manage the current boxing champion, Johnny Monterez (Ricardo Montalban).

Pat and Johnny are in love, but Johnny won’t propose because he’s afraid that if he were no longer champion, she would no longer love him. He can’t believe she would really love him for himself, a man of Mexican background who has had to fight for everything he ever had.

There is also a plot-thread involving Johnny’s hand, which has been injured several times. The doctor warns Johnny that his hand could go at any time, spelling the abrupt end of his career. For Johnny, it is a race against the clock, to find a way to make enough money to deserve Pat before he ends up back where he started: with nothing.

The third wheel to the romance is provided by Rick (Dick Powell), a sports journalist carrying a torch for Pat, but he is also a good friend to Johnny. His hobby seems to be drinking and brawling.

It’s a very intriguing set up and the characters are all appealing, though the plot is imperfectly executed. For one, June Allyson and Dick Powell actually have the better chemistry in the film (which isn’t exactly an imperfection, because it is delightful). Not all off screen couples have good on screen chemistry, but June Allyson and Dick Powell did (they are also adorable in The Reformer and the Redhead). Rick comments that “it’s either there or it’s not,” and we are supposed to believe that it’s not there in the film, but it actually is. The scene where Rick tries to cook a spaghetti dinner for Pat (unsuccessfully) and shows her how he would play a love scene is very sweet and almost made me wish that Rick and Pat could be together.

They even have chemistry in this picture

But the main problem is how the film lets some very interesting plot points drop conveniently at the end. Johnny’s mother does not trust “gringos” and is not pleased that Johnny is dating Pat. Johnny is also ashamed to bring Pat home to meet his mother. At the same time, he does not want his sister to date a “gringo.” And Pat’s father is not thrilled that Pat is dating Johnny. The plot sets up these problems, only to let them disappear at the end.

That being said, the cast is highly appealing. Especially June Allyson and Dick Powell. It’s not that Ricardo Montalban isn’t appealing, but his character is callow and has the unfortunate habit of using others to do things for him that he should do himself, like constantly sending Rick to patch it up between him and Pat, which seems callous, unless he’s oblivious that Rick does love Pat. He has some growing up to do.

June Allyson, on the other hand, is very mature, without being matronly. One of the things that is appealing about June Allyson is how naturally she wears her charm. She seems down to earth, utterly capable, unpretentious, like someone you would like as a friend. She seems natural. Like she’s hardly acting at all. Like she just IS.

That kind of persona is easy to overlook and I’ve always rather taken June Allyson for granted. Thanks to Simoa of Champagne for Lunch, who is hosting “The June Allyson Centenary Blogathon,” I’ve had a chance to think about her roles afresh. And to appreciate  how she can make acting look so easy and natural. I believe that she could be a fight promoter. She can play a professional person without looking like she’s trying too hard to convince us that she’s a professional. She seems totally comfortable as a woman, as a woman in love, and as a fight promoter. Quite an accomplishment. It actually might have been nice to see more of that side of her character in the film!

More posts about June Allyson from the blogathon can be found here.

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25 Comments

Posted by on October 7, 2017 in Movies

 

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25 responses to “Right Cross (1950)

  1. cottagecaretakersyahoocom

    October 7, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    Dear Christina,

    This is a swell article. I have never seen June Allyson act with Dick Powell. This sounds like a really interesting movie. I would like to see it some time.

    By the way, have you thought of a topic for “The Great Breening Blogathon” yet? There still is a week, but I just wondered if you needed some suggestions. I look forward to hearing what you choose.

    Yours Hopefully,

    Tiffany Brannan

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • christinawehner

      October 7, 2017 at 9:55 pm

      Thanks!

      I’m sorry I disappeared so long from the blog world. Things got really crazy. A topic…hmm – I’ve always wanted to cast Lord of the Rings from the late 1930s Warner Bros. actors. Would that work?

      Liked by 2 people

       
      • stephencwinter

        October 9, 2017 at 12:11 am

        Now the idea of casting LOTR from the 1930s Warner Brothers Studio really fascinates me! I will give some thought to it too! Thank you for a fascinating review of Right Cross. Sadly I have met so many men like Johnny who feel that they can never be loved just as they are, who feel that they need to achieve something to make them loveable. They never reach a place of rest and cripple their relationships by their fear. Perhaps we all have something of this in ourselves. Great to hear from you again!

        Liked by 1 person

         
        • christinawehner

          October 9, 2017 at 9:28 pm

          Thanks – it feels good to be back!! I will be very interested in your opinion of who to cast. I’m thinking Bette Davis would probably have been cast as Eowyn and the character given a lot to do. 🙂

          You make a good point about Johnny! Perhaps the film touched on too deep and real a problem to be able to really solve in 90 minutes and so had to wrap up the film quickly. There might not have been a way to end the film happily otherwise.

          Like

           
      • cottagecaretakersyahoocom

        October 9, 2017 at 1:21 am

        Dear Christina,

        This would be marvelous! I have been hoping that someone outside of the Brannan family would sign up for category two! I can’t wait to read what you write about a 1930s Lord of the Rings. My sister, Rebekah, and I do that sort of recasting all the time. It’s swell. The only thing to keep in mind is the fact that it has to comply with the Code, so a few changes may have to be made. You will want to mention that in your article, of course. Thank you for choosing this interesting, imaginative topic!

        Yours Hopefully,

        Tiffany Brannan

        Liked by 1 person

         
  2. Elinor Anne James

    October 7, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Great review. I agree with everything said here. It should definitely have been Pat and Rick, but if I recall correctly it was changed because this was during one of June and Dick’s rough patches. That said, you’d never even realize it because the chemistry is still there between them, simply a natural force.

    Liked by 2 people

     
    • christinawehner

      October 7, 2017 at 9:58 pm

      Oh, that interesting that originally they were to be together in the film! It is amazing, as you say, how much their natural chemistry comes through nonetheless.

      Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

       
  3. Alex Windley

    October 7, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    I’m definitely putting this on my IMDB watchlist! Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • christinawehner

      October 7, 2017 at 10:00 pm

      Thank you! It’s definitely worth seeing if one is a fan of the actors!

      Like

       
  4. Simoa

    October 7, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    Excellent! I didn’t even notice the imperfect execution, but I do agree that everyone is appealing. I love what you wrote about June and how naturally she wore her charm, that’s the perfect way to describe her.

    Thanks so much for joining the blogathon and writing about this underrated film!

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • christinawehner

      October 7, 2017 at 10:01 pm

      And thank you for hosting! It was a pleasure and has set me off to look into more June Allyson films! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

       
  5. maddylovesherclassicfilms

    October 8, 2017 at 3:16 am

    This sounds a terrific film. Loved reading your review. I love Dick, Ricardo and June so this is one I’m going to try and find.

    Liked by 1 person

     
  6. Patricia Nolan-Hall (@CaftanWoman)

    October 8, 2017 at 6:09 am

    Wonderful article. You expressed so perfectly what I find so appealing about June Allyson, but have never fully articulated.

    Liked by 1 person

     
  7. The Animation Commendation

    October 8, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Which man would you have chosen, lol?

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • christinawehner

      October 8, 2017 at 1:53 pm

      Ooh, that’s a tough choice. Normally, I would chose either one in a heartbeat, but to have to chose between them…? Maybe Dick Powell, at least in the movie. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

       
  8. Silver Screenings

    October 8, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    You’re right about June Allyson being natural. I’ve seen folks questioning why she became an MGM star in the first place, but she has a great screen presence. Like you said, she doesn’t seem to be Acting; she translates well on screen.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • christinawehner

      October 8, 2017 at 9:55 pm

      That is interesting that some people wonder how she became a star! As you say, she is far more natural on screen than some other stars at MGM (like Lana Turner, who never seemed fully comfortable on screen). It seems like that mysterious element where some people just seem right in a film and some don’t, I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  9. Michaela Owens

    October 8, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    Oh my goodness, how have I never heard of this one?! I think my eyes bugged out more and more as I read “June Allyson,” “Ricardo Montalban,” and “Dick Powell.” This sounds really intriguing, despite its imperfections. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • christinawehner

      October 8, 2017 at 9:51 pm

      It does seem oddly obscure, despite the excellent cast. Perhaps because it is a film that feels like it ought to be better than it is, but the cast really is good. 🙂

      Like

       

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