Ronald Reagan fights for workers' rights as Steve Talbot. Ann Sheridan portrays a wised-up, dirt-poor juke joint dancer who comes to love him. Together they risk their lives to defy the tyranny of big money and defend the dignity of honest work.
Times are tough in Cat-Tail, Florida. The Depression has hit folks hard and migrant pickers, desperate for work, are caught in a battle between a greedy packing-plant baron and a farmer who dares to demand a fair price for his crops. The people need a hero and one steps up: itinerant farmhand Steve Talbot. He has principle on his side. But the baron has power.
Ronald Reagan fights for workers' rights as Talbot. He is joined by his Kings Row co-star Ann Sheridan, who portrays a wised-up, dirt-poor juke joint dancer who comes to love Steve. Together they risk their lives to defy the tyranny of big money and defend the dignity of honest work.
Director Curtis Bernhardt hadn't wanted to make JUKE GIRL, but he was under contract to Warner Bros. and had to tow the line lest he find himself drawing Unemployment. One of Bernhardt's gripes against the film is that it starred Ronald Reagan, whom he considered an "unimportant" screen personality. In all fairness, Reagan is pretty good in his role as itinerant fruit-picker Steve Talbot, who gets involved in the middle of a labor dispute between the farmers and the packers. Talbot casts his lot with the farmers, while his longtime pal Danny Frazier (Richard Whorf) goes with the packers. Juke-joint hostess Lola Meers (Anne Sheridan) falls for Steve and supports his cause, only to be fired for her troubles at the behest of powerful packing-plant operator Henry Madden (Gene Lockhart). She and Steve try to escape Madden's influence, but when their farmer friend Nick Garcos (George Tobias) is murdered, the couple is framed for the crime. There follows "orgies of fights" (director Bernhardt's description) and a lynching attempt before Steve's old buddy Danny comes to the rescue. Anne Sheridan is at her most gorgeous in JUKE GIRL, making it difficult for the viewer to remain concentrated on the story.
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