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Gangway (1937)

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment Ltd

Main image of Gangway (1937)
DirectorSonnie Hale
Production CompanyGaumont-British Picture Corporation
ScriptSonnie Hale
 Lesser Samuels
StoryDwight Taylor
 Alfred J√ľnge
CinematographyGlen MacWilliams
Music DirectorLouis Levy

Cast: Jessie Matthews (Pat Wayne); Barry Mackay (Insp Bob Deering); Nat Pendleton (Smiles Hogan); Alastair Sim (Taggett); Olive Blakeney (Nedda Beaumont)

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Sassy film journalist Patricia Wayne is given an assignment and finds herself mixed up with gangsters, jewel thieves and a handsome Scotland Yard detective.

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The character of a feisty newspaper reporter suits Jessie Matthews well in this pacey tale of mistaken identity. Gangway (d. Sonnie Hale) gives her the chance to try on various personas as well as different styles of dress, with chic suits in her girl reporter role, a maid's outfit as a disguise and 'borrowed' glamorous evening gowns. Matthews seems to be enjoying herself immensely throughout, giving the film a feel-good factor absent from some of her later work.

We first see Matthews as she arrives at a wonderful deco newspaper office designed by Alfred Junge. As she strides in and treats the receptionist to a rendition of a show song heard the night before, we can see that Matthews is firmly in control of the action. Complaining to her friend Joe (Graham Moffatt) that in American "fast newspaper films" lots of exciting things happen but that in England life is boring, Jessie soon finds herself caught up in the kind of adventure she enjoys seeing at the movies.

Matthews' love interest in Gangway is Barry Mackay, and there is good on-screen chemistry between the two, especially during their dance on board the liner Goliath. An excellent supporting cast adds to the enjoyment. Olive Blakeney as faded film star Nedda Beaumont is wonderfully prissy and Nat Pendleton makes a most appealing soft-hearted gangster. By comparison however, Alastair Sim seems a little underused.

The title song 'Gangway' is jaunty and memorable, though others in the film are less so and sadly there are no big dance numbers with chorus. Although obviously a musical, the film leans more towards fast-talking romantic comedy, with song and dance numbers taking a back seat to the wise cracks. Nevertheless, it is one of the more enjoyable Matthews vehicles and is fast moving enough to please most audiences.

Jenny Hammerton

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Video Clips
1. Sassy reporter (3:05)
2. Liner dance (2:51)
3. Shoot-out (2:46)
Monthly Film Bulletin review
Junge, Alfred (1886-1964)
Matthews, Jessie (1907-1981)
Sim, Alastair (1900-1976)