Manpower amounts to a romantic-triangle melodrama, but in a tough-guy setting directed by action expert Raoul Walsh. Two workers (Edward G. Robinson and George Raft) on the high-power lines battle the elements, the dangers of their job–and each other after they meet fading bar singer Marlene Dietrich.
Dietrich marries Robinson though she’s in love with Raft, which she makes clear when Raft is injured and comes to live with the newlyweds. The result is a terrific fight that ends in tragedy. The set was nearly as dangerous as the action depicted: the story calls for Raft to slug Dietrich; he missed and knocked her down a flight of steps, breaking her ankle. The feud between Robinson and Raft on-screen carried on for years offscreen as well.
Manpower marked the screen debut of Diana Barrymore, daughter of John. Her life and brief film career is chronicled in her autobiography Too Much Too Soon, printed in 1957, three years before her death at age 38.
Cast: Marlene Dietrich, George Raft, Edward G. Robinson, Alan Hale, Eve Arden, Walter Catlett, Joyce Compton, Barton MacLane, Frank McHugh, Diana Barrymore,
Director: Raoul Walsh
Producer: Mark Hellinger
Director of Photography: Ernest Haller
Editor: Ralph Dawson
Composer: Adolph Deutsch
Screenwriters: Richard Macaulay, Jerry Wald
Production Designer: Max Parker
USA / Warner Bros. / 105 minutes / 1942