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Manpower (1941 film)

Directed by Raoul Walsh
Produced by Hal B. Wallis
Mark Hellinger
Written by Richard Macauley
Jerry Wald
Starring Edward G. Robinson
Marlene Dietrich
George Raft
Music by Adolph Deutsch
Cinematography Ernest Haller
Edited by Ralph Dawson
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • August 9, 1941 (1941-08-09) (U.S.)
  • May 21, 1942 (1942-05-21) (Sweden)
  • March 21, 1943 (1943-03-21) (Finland)
  • August 6, 1947 (1947-08-06) (France)
  • September 1, 1947 (1947-09-01) (Denmark)
Running time 103 min.
Country United States
Language English

Manpower is a 1941 film drama directed by Jerry Wald, and the supporting cast features Alan Hale, Frank McHugh, Eve Arden, Barton MacLane, Ward Bond and Walter Catlett.

Robinson and Raft got into a fistfight on the set that was eagerly splashed all over the front pages of the nation's newspapers. Victor McLaglen was originally going to play Robinson's role, which would have made it a supporting part, and Raft reportedly resented sharing leading man status on the film as a result of Robinson being cast instead.

Raft chose Manpower over the remake of the 1931 pre-Code version of Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon, and the career-igniting role of Sam Spade went to Humphrey Bogart instead.

The script is one of many reworkings of the plotline for a 1932 Robinson movie called Tiger Shark, in which Robinson played essentially the same part, only as a tuna fisherman rather than an electric power lineman.


  • Plot 1
  • Critical reaction 2
  • Cast 3
  • Production 4
  • Reception 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


A leg injury causes Los Angeles power line worker Hank McHenry to give up field work and accept a promotion to foreman. His crew includes good friend Johnny Marshall and old Pop Duval.

Pop is killed during an ice storm. His daughter Fay's seeming indifference irritates Johnny, but Hank is attracted to her. A hostess in a nightclub, Fay accepts money from Hank and also his marriage proposal, even though she doesn't love him.

Before a project that takes them to Boulder Dam, an injury befalls Johnny. He is taken into Hank's home, where Fay makes a play for him. Johnny resists her. Fay decides to leave Hank, but after she is arrested in a raid at the club, Johnny pays her bail and Hank misconstrues the situation, believing Johnny has betrayed him.

During a work emergency, Hank climbs with his bad leg to reach Johnny and start a fight. Hank falls to his death. Johnny is left to decide whether he is attracted to Fay or repelled by her.

Critical reaction

Bosley Crowther wrote a positive review for the film, noting that the cast of the Warner Bros. film was outstanding. "With such exceptional material, the Warner blacksmiths couldn't help but make good—good, in this sense—meaning the accomplishment of a tough, fast, exciting adventure film."[1] Channel 4's review of the movie notes the exciting setting makes it worth seeing, but goes on to pan the film: "Directed with the usual efficiency by Walsh, Manpower's weak script never manages to convince despite the setting and the strong cast."[2]



Production was marked by several conflicts between Raft and Robinson, mostly initiated by Raft. Raft verbally abused Robinson, and pushed him around the set. Raft later complained that Robinson tried to tell him how to act; he also felt the actor was miscast, preferring Victor McLaglen.[3] The two actors were top-billed again 14 years later for a film noir entitled A Bullet for Joey (1955).


The film was a solid box office hit.[3]


  1. ^ [1] NY Times review
  2. ^ [2] Channel 4 film review
  3. ^ a b Everett Aaker, The Films of George Raft, McFarland & Company, 2013 p 96-97

External links

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