SOMETHING ALWAYS HAPPENS(director: Michael Powell; screenwriter: Brock Williams; cinematographer: Basil Emmott; editor: Bert Bates/Ralph Dawson;cast: Ian Hunter (Peter Middleton), Nancy O’Neil (Cynthia Hatch), John Singer (Billy), Peter Gawthorne (Mr. Hatch), Muriel George (Mrs. Badger), Barry Livesey (George Hamlin), George Zucco (proprietor of the Cafe de Paris); Runtime: 69; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Irving Asher; Warner Bros.; 1934-UK)
“All things considered, Powell’s directing was lively and the acting was spirited.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Not much happens in this crowd-pleasing low-budget lighthearted comedy-romance B film, whose charm quickly grows irksome and the storyline remains too predictable to be any more than routine. The title is derived from a saying by the film’s main protagonist, a businessman hustler named Peter Middleton (Ian Hunter), who welcomes being broke as his fate in life and optimistically looks upon it as a chance to make something really big happen. Screenwriter Brock Williams keeps the storyline about a happy-go-lucky bloke who never pays for anything fast-paced and breezy. It’s an early one from legendary Brit director Michael Powell (“The Phantom Light”/ “Volunteer”/ “The Brown Wallet”) before he honed his skills and went on to make A films.
Powell worked for Teddington Studios, which was the American Warner Brothers’ British studio. According to English law at the time, an American studio had to make a certain amount of features with a British cast and crew every year. The American studio called films like these “quota quickies,” and were typically one hour features needed to satisfy that legal requirement. The films were the second features in a double bill and were never meant to be shown in America. The studio never valued such films and threw most of them away, but in 1963 donated 30 of their remaining films to BFI. They highly valued the films and preserved them. TCM aired this rare film for the first time to an American audience.
It centers around an unemployed car salesman, Peter Middleton, who maintains an optimistic outlook despite his present gloomy circumstances of being flat broke after a card game with friends. After helping a homeless street urchin, Billy (John Singer), a raggedy runaway from an orphanage home, who stole apples from a peddler, the two homeless males team up as partners. Peter then sweet talks Mrs. Badger (Muriel George), a landlady with a heart of gold, to let them stay overnight without paying rent until tomorrow. The next day while admiring a shiny new chauffeur driven Bentley Peter meets Cynthia Hatch (Nancy O’Neil), the pretty daughter of a wealthy industrialist, who pretends to be a working class girl. She encourages Peter to present his ideas about petrol stations to the tycoon Ben Hatch (Peter Gawthorne) without telling him that’s her dad, but when he bursts into Ben’s office he’s given the boot before he can spit out his ideas. So he takes his business ideas to the rival Blue Point Company, and they make him a general manager. He talks Cynthia into becoming his secretary, and while implementing Peter’s ideas the company catches up to the industrial giant Hatch company. After a series of business maneuvers to see who is the sharper hustler, Peter shows his stuff and outwits Mr. Hatch, wins the gal, adopts Billy and gets the grudging respect of Cynthia’s father for his business acumen.
All things considered, Powell’s directing was lively and the acting was spirited.
REVIEWED ON 9/18/2007 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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