Steven Hellerstedt | 07/21/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Congresswoman Margaret Chase (Sylvia Sidney) is rich and beautiful and used to getting what she wants with few undue delays. Eddie Ace (George Raft), Mr. Ace to the likes of us, is the cool and soft-spoken leader of the Tomahawk Club. Here in Everystate, U.S.A., one does not become governor without going through the Tomahawk Club. Not if they want to be elected, that is. Mrs. Chase wants to be governor.
MR. ACE was released in 1946, just a year after World War Two ended, and it offers solid evidence that the Greatest Generation had indeed discovered cynicism. Essentially MR. ACE is a morality play with Practicality pitted against Idealism, machine politics versus populism. It may play somewhat slow and flat if you?re not a political junkie with historical curiosity, and it?ll play a bit too straight if you?re expecting a twisted little film noir. Without giving anything away, I?ll also argue that the MR. ACE deceives itself in the end. Although the drift in this movie is away from the corrupt practices of Mr. Ace and the Tomahawk Club towards the ideal political environment embodied by Mrs. Chase?s mentor Professor Joshua Adams (Roman Bohnen), Idealism doesn?t really triumph in the end. Something like love does, and the audience has to attribute it more to Sidney?s high-cheeked beauty than Mr. Ace?s discovery of a higher moral code.
The leads here are competent, if not necessarily memorable. My ancient copy of Film Companion says Ms. Sidney star rose in the depression-era 1930s, when she was almost invariably cast as the downtrodden girl of the working class. There?s little vulnerability in her role here. In any event, Sidney?s discontent with being typecast led to her working more on stage and less on screen in the 40s. Tough guy?s Raft most remarkable bio-entry is probably the list of the movies he passed on; High Sierra, The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca and Double Indemnity are a few of the movies he rejected.
The three-stars I give MR. ACE are intended for those patient with old, b/w movies.
An entertaining movie if your standards aren't too high, and
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 06/23/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"George Raft plays Eddie Ace, head of the state's Tomahawk Club. Ace is a behind-the-scenes political fixer, a man who can deliver votes. Nowadays he'd be seen as a cross between a machine boss, a lobbyist and a political consultant, but without the body odor of the last two.
Sylvia Sidney plays Margaret Wyndham Chase, a glamorous, spoiled society dame with three names. Chase is a wealthy, ambitious Congresswoman with ice water in her veins who now intends to be elected governor. "I know what I want and I'm going to get it," she says. We believe her.
When Margaret Wyndham Chase meets Mr. Ace in this political romance, the sparks will fly, the tears will flow and a woman will learn her place even if she makes it to the governor's mansion. Chase wants Ace's support for her campaign to win the party's nomination. She knows he's essential because he can mobilize his machine to deliver the convention votes she needs. She has manipulated her husband in their loveless marriage, cozied up to newspaper publishers and fat cats and, being a beautiful woman, has never hesitated to use her charm to win over men with power. She thinks Ace will not be a problem. She's wrong.
"Well, are you going to support my nomination?" she asks him after a cozy dinner, dancing at a posh nightclub and an evening at her country home.
"No," Ace says.
"You're not? Why?"
"Because beautiful women don't belong in politics," Ace tells her.
"Where do they belong?"
"Where do you think?"
I'm probably one of the few people around who enjoys Mr. Ace. The movie was made when Raft's career was on the downslide. He was no actor, which he proved in all of his movies, including this one. Sidney was a fine actress with great big eyes and a memorable face, but she, too, had seen her career begin to contract after some first-class roles in the Thirties. The problem with Mr. Ace, from my point of view, however, is not Raft. The first 30 minutes of the movie are spent establishing our three-named heroine as such an unlikable, power-hungry, ambitious politician that I became impatient watching. It's difficult later to accept her as a woman who has learned her lesson, much less like her. Sidney makes it work, but those first 30 minutes are a bore.
Then there is the lesson she learns. Mr. Ace, while a movie of its time, seems to hit harder than it needs the old saw about a woman who loses her femininity if she chooses to play at men's' games, and can be redeemed only by a man's love. Chase comes to her senses only after we have to listen to Sidney give us this bit of male-written insight. "A woman can be clever and shrewd. She can think brains more important than heart because she feels above everything else. Some little thing may happen...an ash may grow too long on a cigarette...a man may look too long in her eyes...suddenly everything collapses...she's afraid..."
Still, all the political shenanigans the movie shows us are fun. I've always liked Sylvia Sidney and she does a fine job here. Playing against Raft must have been a challenge, but she makes the chemistry look interesting. And -- I'll admit it -- I'm a sucker for George Raft. As wooden as he is, he still has that indefinable movie presence that makes him, for me, at least, watchable. I think some of his unexpected success in the movies is because, while he looks like a believable, emotionless tough guy, he also seems to be the kind of guy you'd like on your side. I can't explain it, but I enjoy watching him in most of his movies, even the bad ones...perhaps the bad ones most of all.
If you can get past the initial unlikeability of the heroine and the inherent sexism of the plot, give Mr. Ace a try. Just don't read the reviews first. (And is the movie worth four stars? Objectively, no. But if you like Raft and behind-the-scenes political maneuvering...why not?)
The DVD transfer looks better than you might expect."