Me and My Gal. 1932. USA. Directed by Raoul Walsh. With Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett, Marion Burns. 80 min.
A notorious flop for Fox and star Spencer Tracy when it was first released, Me and My Gal now seems like a quintessential urban comedy of the Great Depression. Tracy is a wisecracking waterfront cop who has a hankering for the no-less-caustic coffee-shop waitress Joan Bennett; director Raoul Walsh chronicles their verbal and physical give and take with bracingly pre-Code erotic frankness. The topical storyline takes in everything from the gangster menace (with a fugitive killer played by Walsh’s brother, George), the imminent repeal of Prohibition, and the MGM film of Eugene O’Neill’s Strange Interlude (which Tracy’s character remembers as “Strange Innertube, or sumthin’”). Connoisseurs will recognize a plot twist lifted from the 1920 While New York Sleeps, which is also in this program. (It’s also fun to imagine this film as the backstory to Father of the Bride, in which Tracy and Bennett were reunited in 1950.) New 4K restoration from nitrate elements held by MoMA, funded by Twentieth Century Fox