Gambler's Choice (1944)
No Gamble When You Play Safe
The chances are that if you are going to watch "Gambler's Choice" you are a fan of old movies and as such there is a reasonable chance you will have already seen the likes of "Angels with Dirty Faces" and "Manhattan Melodrama". Why do I mention this well "Gambler's Choice" is a similar movie where we have childhood friends who have grown up very differently with one being a shifty casino owner whilst the other is a morally upright cop. That is not the only similarities and to be honest "Gambler's Choice" is derivative but also entertaining and at just over an hour and legally free to watch online is well worth giving some time to.
As children Ross (Chester Morris), Mike (Russell Hayden) and Mary (Nancy Kelly) all got in to trouble with the law and whilst Mary and Mike got off Ross ended up in reform school. Over a decade later and Ross is about to open his casino having worked in one for the shady Chappie (Sheldon Leonard), whilst Mike is a promising young lieutenant. And then there is Mary who now goes by the name of Vi and is a stage performer who is happy to catch up with both Ross and Mike when she returns to town. With Mike determined to clean up the town it causes a rift between old friends but when Chappie plans to ruin Mike's career Ross has to make a choice especially as whilst he loves Mary he knows deep down she's in love with Mike.
So as already mentioned "Gambler's Choice" is pretty derivative with the set up of Ross and Mike being childhood friends ending up on opposite sides of the law with Mary torn between the two. It means you end up watching knowing that at some point things will inevitably come to ahead and Ross will have to make a decision between doing what would be right for him or right for his old friends. That is it and whilst it is nicely put together with a storyline which sees trouble between Chappie and Ross escalating to cause bigger trouble for everyone leading to things coming to ahead it doesn't disguise the obviousness of the outcome.
Yet whilst that means that "Gambler's Choice" is predictable it is still entertaining and much of that is down to the trio of Chester Morris, Russell Hayden and Nancy Kelly because they work so well together. Their actual characters maybe as derivative as the story, as are the supporting ones, but Morris gives Ross energy whilst Kelly is lovely and Hayden does morally upright to perfection.
What this all boils down to is that there is nothing special about "Gambler's Choice" as it is ultimately derivative of earlier movies. But for a movie which is legally free to watch online and lasts just over an hour is still surprisingly entertaining.
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