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“City Without Men” Review

City Without Men: Directed by Sidney Salkow. With Linda Darnell, Edgar Buchanan, Michael Duane, Sara Allgood. A young woman’s husband has been imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. In order to be near him to try to help him get his sentence overturned, she moves into a boardinghouse near the prison whose residents are the wives of inmates.

Set 5 months before WW2 starts, a handsome harbor pilot is engaged to a beautiful school teacher, but in a horifying turn of events, he’s framed for bringing in Japanese spies from a strange boat off shore. e’s sentenced to prison where his would be wife is trying to visit him and she runs into our gal Glenda Farrell, who sets her straight about how to get into the prison to visit, then recruits to live in a house with other women that live by the prison to be close to their imprisoned men. There’s some shenanigans afoot with the women and they (without the knowledge of the wife to be) convince all their men to stage a prison escape with the help of the not-so-guilting harbor pilot, but through sheer happenstance, the sinking of a boat in Mexico proves that the pilot wasn’t guilty of being a spy ferry. There’s a couple side stories of a woman involved with another man while waiting for her husband to get out of jail, a drunkard lawyer and a washing company that all the women work at, which serves to fill out the world the ladies are living in, making it as real and vibrant as a black and white film can be.

Released in 1943 while the war was still happening, i can only imagine how the film was received by the general public, but it has enough of the standard issue Hollywood style patriotism that I can only assume it was received well enough. It’s a find film, though my copy I bought from Amazon is is terrible transfer, with at least 3 different levels of visual issues, I see reel skipping from the original celluloid, vhs visual waves along the top, then a low bitrate encoding on the DVD. Combine that with the lousy audio, this wasn’t a great experience and one that I originally started with my wife in the room, but knew that it would take a dedicated Farrell fan to get through and while she’s happen to sit through the better transfers, this wasn’t one of them.

I like the story though and am happy to have seen it.

Buy On Amazon!

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