The Big Brawl Back Again
Feldman Pulls Strings On The Spoilers (1942)
Another Universal flog of the Destry formula, their minted-since-'39 approach to actioners that would continue with but slight variation through and past WWII. The Spoilers is recalled in terms of John Wayne, but he's billed third to Marlene Dietrich and Randolph Scott (though interestingly, Chicago's RKO Palace in the ad at left promotes Wayne to second position, with Dietrich now reduced to third), she the chanteuse and reinvented persona that was less Dietrich than Mae West. Dialogue throughout is mock-suggestive, expressions and eyebrow lift giving impression of blue words having been spoke despite that almost never being the case. We must take it on faith that Dietrich is the Klondike's most desirable woman, there being little evidence otherwise on view. The actress had gone rigid with determination to look just so for every shot, coif piled high with light as though adjusted over hours to favor her. There was six years age difference between Wayne and Dietrich that looks a chasm here, most of that consequence of MD at forty-one clinging to youth.
Time strikes cruelest to supporting Richard Barthelmess, who'd undergone face fix that left damage around his eyes, this brought stark to relief by Vudu's HD transmit of The Spoilers. Dick had been trying for a comeback via character parts, but this would be penultimate effort. He'd retire by end of 1942. The Spoilers was early among "packaged" projects developed by super-agent Charles Feldman, doubling here as independent producer in addition to repping all three stars and much of talent behind cameras. Feldman was very much a creative contributor to The Spoilers, as much or more so than anyone else credited. He was shaping careers for a long haul, most diligently
The Spoilers would see the watch wound to keenest accuracy. As serve of "lusty action" by a cast associated with such, it couldn't miss. The property, which Feldman brought to Universal with his cast, was known from earliest feature era, having been done to acclaim as both silents and a 1930 talker. What tripped pleasure centers was the Big Fight that everyone associated with Spoilers climax. This would be re-staged to fare-thee-well by Wayne, Scott, and stuntmen to go nameless. Further advantage of HD access to The Spoilers is fix on who gets doubled and where. Contest between the two sees Wayne the winner both in story outcome and fact he did lion's share of the brawl, including a backwards window fall-through I'd have figured for his stand-in. Duke-it-yourself integrity was maybe an asset JW brought over from Republic --- whatever --- he has Scott beat for scorn of action substitutes.