Keeper of the Flame (1942)

  • This starts with super dramatic intro music, and then there’s a lightning storm, and then there’s a car crash and then BAM! Our story’s hero is dead.
  • Of course Spencer Tracy’s character is called ‘Steve O’Malley’ in this. Eye roll. That’s such a typical Tracy character name.
  • So…the guy who died in the car crash was this beloved American hero named Robert Forrest. Everyone adored him. Steve O’Malley adored him, and following Forrest’s tragic death, he wants to extensively write about him & bolster his (Forrest’s) amazing legacy. Forrest’s widow, Christine, refuses to talk to anyone – until she realizes that she is Katharine Hepburn, and O’Malley is Spencer Tracy – and therefore she must talk to him, because that’s the way Hepburn/Tracy movies work.
  • There are so many interesting characters in this:

Jeb (who the fuck names a character Jeb? Whatever, though): He’s a chess wizard who cries all the time but loves America with all of his child heart & can be persuaded to do anything, as long as the persuader is capable of telling intensely patriotic stories. (Played by Darryl Hickman.)

Mrs. Forrest (Margaret Wycherly): The mother, not the wife. She used to be a cook but now she lives in a mansion & has servants of her own! She talks to her son by means of thunderstorms, which is badass (but also mildly insane)!

Jeb’s father the Gateman (Howard Da Silva): Used to be ranked above Robert Forrest in military terms, but is now “charitably” employed by him.

The Cab Driver! Who refuses rides to literally all people who aren’t Spencer Tracy and takes free drugs from the town doctor, apparently just for kicks.

Kermit – I mean…Kerndon (Richard Whorf): Is an ASSWIPE FASCIST who would be good at subliminal advertising but who is (thankfully) even better at being hit by cars.

Then there’s the secretary sister (of Jeb) – I think her name was Janet – who forgot she loved the motorbiking farmer (thanks a lot, hero worship!) & spent three years in a sanitarium as a result.

AND there are O’Malley’s long lost newspaper buds (Freddie & Jane, I think? Played by Stephen McNally & Audrey Christie) who are totally an item & totally on the Truth Trail right behind their hero Steve. For some reason, Jane won’t marry Fred! Why is that?!

  • This could inspire so many spin offs, it’s insane.
  • Anyhow, the movie certainly kept me enthralled – but it almost had too much intrigue. Like…the level of suspenseful mystery was kept so high from almost the very beginning, that there weren’t enough places to gasp – if that makes sense. The filmmakers (the composers included) pushed a little too hard on the “FORBODE” button right from the get-go, I think.
  • That said, the acting performances were great. Solid job all around, especially (& predictably) by the two leads.
  • George Cukor directed this. (What the EFF?!)
  • Oh…maybe I should include the end result of O’Malley’s interview-turned-investigation? Turns out Forrest was the ringleader behind an evil, un-American traitor plot. Christine knows it & tries to stop it (whoops, he died!), then does her best to protect his inspirational legacy for the good of America.
  • Hooray! The End.
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