“Here Comes Carter”
Directed by William Clemens. Cast: Ross Alexander, Anne Nagel, Glenda Farrell, Craig Reynolds, George E. Stone, Norman Willis, Wayne Morris. Released October 24, 1936. Running time: 58 minutes.
Brief, breezy Warner Brothers B movie featuring three of the more tragic actors on their roster back in the 30s. Ross Alexander stars as an enterprising young man whose demands on his girl leads her into the arms of a struggling actor. He decides to get even by hosting a gossip show on the radio, and his fast talking wit makes him a big success. He specifically goes after the actor with inflammatory comments, so the actor hires gangsters to shut him up. The gangsters end up being initially charmed by the radio star, but continued comments that now include those gangsters get him into serious trouble.
Warner Brothers films of this period had a certain rhythm, including among their B unit. Running just under an hour, the movie briskly moves along as it is filled with snappy dialog and enthusiastic performances. The film is a delightfully happy experience, hardly the stuff of great cinema, but thoroughly entertaining.
Sadly, the leads all led pretty tragic lives. Ross Alexander, so delightful as the fast-talking radio gossip, made one more film before taking his own life. He had scored in 1935 opposite Errol Flynn in “Captain Blood,” but his off-screen homosexuality was a real problem during the suppressive cultural climate of those days. The studio arranged a marriage with a stage actress, who eventually killed herself. Shaken by this, Alexander entered another arranged marriage with Anne Nagel, who stars with him in this movie. However, by the time of “Here Comes Carter,” Alexander was being given roles turned down by Dick Powell and considered by the studio heads to be somewhat of a liability. Despondent, Alexander killed himself in 1937. Anne Nagel died a penniless alcoholic at 50. And Craig Reynolds, who plays the actor, lost the momentum of his promising career when he left to serve in World War Two. He returned to find his career was no longer waiting for him. He died in a motorcycle crash in 1949 at the age of 42.
Despite whatever Ross Alexander might have been going through offscreen, he is great in this role and seems fully committed. He maintains the wit, the charm, and the phony dazzle that the role calls for, and does so expertly. The entire cast of familiar faces are all quite good, making “Here Comes Carter” a typically enjoyable Warner B picture of the 30s.