MAN ALIVE (1945)
Article #1264 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-30-2004
Posting Date: 1-27-2005
Directed by Ray Enright
Featuring Pat O’Brien, Adolphe Menjou, Ellen Drew
Due to a series of circumstances brought on by a night of drunkenness, a car salesman is believed dead after the body of a con-man is found wearing his ring and his clothes. The salesman uses this oppotunity to pose as his own ghost in order to prevent his wife from running off with an old flame of hers.
Back when I covered RAINBOW ISLAND, I questioned that whether a man posing as a native god might be enough to throw a movie into the realm of fantastic cinema. The question arises again here in a slightly different form; we know from the beginning there is no real ghost, but we do have a character posing as one and certain other characters believing the pose. We also have two other aspects of the movie that skirt the fantastic genres; when the salesman first recovers from his accident, he looks through a window and sees a throng of singing angels. Thinking he is in heaven, he walks through a door, and is then dismayed to find the devil shoveling coal into a furnace; they are all actors aboard a showboat. We also have a sequence with a phony medium who gets his comeuppance when he thinks he’s found a real ghost. I’d say there’s enough here for this movie to qualify as marginalia. On it’s own terms, it starts off a little slow, but it picks up speed as it progresses as the salesman has to contend with the complications that arise from his actions. One major problem I have with this one is the Adolphe Menjou character; I’m never quite satisfied as to the explanation he tenders for attaching himself to the salesman and screwing up his life. Still, this is a rather amusing comedy.