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Manpower (Warner 1941, George Raft, Marlene Dietrich)



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.

production details
USA | Warner Bros. | 104 minutes | 1941

Director: Raoul Walsh
Script: Jerry Wald, Richard Macaulay,

George Raft as Johnny Marshall
Barbara Pepper as Polly
William Hopper as Switchboard Operator
Edward G. Robinson as Hank ‘Gimpy’ McHenry
Ward Bond as Eddie Adams
Cliff Clark as Cully
Dick Elliott as Drunk
Ben Welden as Al Hurst
James Flavin as Orderly
Frank McHugh as Omaha
Walter Catlett as Sidney Whipple
Murray Alper as Lineman
Marlene Dietrich as Fay Duval
Alan Hale as Jumbo Wells
Eve Arden as Dolly
Barton MacLane as Smiley Quinn
Joyce Compton as Scarlett
Lucia Carroll as Flo
Egon Brecher as Antoine ‘Pop’ Duval
Joseph Crehan as Sweeney
Jean Ames as Thelma
John Harmon as Benny
Chester Clute as Drugstore Clerk
Harry Holman as Justice of the Peace
Dick Wessel as Lineman
Dorothy Appleby as Wilma