In the Reformer and the Red Head (1950), June Allyson stars as Kathleen Maguire, a zoo tour guide and the daughter of the local zookeeper. When her dad is fired at the behest of a local political boss, she turns to reformer Andrew Hale (played by Allyson’s husband Dick Powell) to expose the corrupt boss and get her father’s job back. Hale sees an opportunity to bolster his fledgling candidacy. However, he finds himself drawn into the lives of the Maguires and their menagerie of wild animals that they keep as pets around the house.
Allyson is great in this. Kathleen Maguire is eager, earnest, sincere, and with a good bit of temper. She’s really the heart of the film and Allyson makes her likable and a delight in every moment she’s on the screen.
Powell’s character is interesting. While he’s running as a reformer, it’s mostly a cynical marketing ploy. It’s his best line of attack. If he can find a way to settle with the bosses and win the election easily, he’s happy to do that. As the film goes on, he changes. Kathleen is a true believer in the things he says to win votes. As they fall in love, they come to a big inevitable conflict where he has to choose between Kathleen and an easy path to political power. Powell manages to portray this conflict while also doing great with the comedy.
I also to have comment on the animals, particularly the domesticated lion. The animals are fun throughout the film, delivering some cute moments as well as some big laughs. There are some great gags, including a really fun scene in a car towards the end.
The film is predictable. If you’ve seen similar movies from this era, you could sketch out the plot of the entire film. While its predictable, it’s never boring. The leads have great chemistry, the animals are fun, and the moral is good. It’s not a classic epic, but it’s a good time. If you like these films, or are a fan of Dick Powell or June Allyson, this is a pleasant 90 minutes.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5
If you enjoyed this post, you can have new posts about Detective stories and the golden age of radio and television delivered automatically to your Kindle.
This post contains affiliate links, which means that items purchased from these links may result in a commission being paid to the author of this post at no extra cost to the purchase