Plot: Vic (Warren William) is a man about town, a successful stockbroker and a bright future awaits, including his upcoming nuptials. As he prepares to take the plunge, he reaches out to his lifelong friend P.H. (Gene Lockhart), the natural choice to stand at his side as best man. While Vic chose a life in the fast lane, P.H. opted to remain in the small town atmosphere, so the two have quite different personas, even if they have stayed close friends. Once the old buddies meet up once again, the good times roll and the insults fly, though soon things take a more serious turn, as P.H. has real concerns over Vic’s young bride-to-be, Beth (June Travis). He worries she is interested in Vic’s wealth and when he has a few too many drinks, he insults not only Beth, but her entire family, riling up Vic in the process. Can these old friends patch up this rift and is Beth just looking for a score or has P.H. misunderstood her intentions?
Entertainment Value: I had a lot of fun with Times Square Playboy. a fun, brisk screwball comedy with a capable cast and a host of humorous, memorable exchanges on hand. The narrative here is a simple one, but it works and allows for all kinds of humor to be showcased. I can see how some might find this to be overly slight, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a brisk, light comedy, as not all movies need a deep plot or complex characters. The movie does what it aims to do, which is allow the cast to shine and provide some laughs. I also don’t think the movie has any pretense of being some rich tapestry of cinema, as it runs barely over an hour and keeps the focus on light humor and tuned up dialogue. I love the banter in Times Square Playboy, as the writing is sharp and the back and forth is relentless, especially between Warren William and Gene Lockhart. The main draw is the cast and the dialogue, as the story is a little on the forgettable side, but the positives more than balance that out. I had a lot of fun with this one and I can see revisiting it on a regular basis, so for fans of old school, screwball comedies, Times Square Playboy is recommended.
As much of the film’s humor depends on how well the cast members can zing each other, this movie needed good chemistry and thankfully, that is present here. I mentioned it earlier, but the Warren William and Gene Lockhart scenes are hilarious and the two seem like genuine old friends. There is a certain kind of banter that only longtime buddies can engage in and make work, just mean spirited enough to raise hackles, but warm enough to show affection. That is what we have in this movie, as well as the inevitable moments when the back and forth leads to hurt feelings, which play out in hilarious fashion. Lockhart is able to take it on the chin often here and the scene where he complains about how William called him a hick and slapped him is a wonderful sequence. William is a great choice for the smooth, fast talking Vic, while Lockhart is just as capable as the more earthy P.H. (aka Pig Head), so both are well cast and deliver good performances here. The cast also includes Dick Purcell, June Travis, Barton MacLane, and Kathleen Lockhart.