Easy Living (1949)

“You’re riding the gravy train too.”

Easy Living is a drama with soap tinges set in the world of professional football. The film explores the options facing aging professional football player, Pete Wilson (Victor Mature) who plays for the Chiefs. All the players know that professional football players come with a limited shelf life. Most of the players leave after an eight-year career–some of the players have sensibly set money aside, and other players go onto coaching jobs. When the film begins, Pete and another Chiefs’ player–Tim “Pappy” McCarr (Sonny Tufts) are both under consideration for a lucrative coaching position at a top school. Pete’s avaricious wife Liza (Lizabeth Scott) hampers his career and runs her own unsuccessful interior decorating business. But with “no talent, no taste” self-focused Liza isn’t making a profit, and Pete pours money into this losing concern while Liza drags him off to parties to meet potential customers. Of course, these parties with the wealthy set require Liza to constantly replenish her wardrobe, and Pete just keeps handing over money to indulge Liza’s whims.

Team players and Chiefs’ management are well aware of Liza’s influence on one of their top players. Most people just shake their heads and thinks it’s sad that Pete’s wife bleeds him dry. But team secretary Anne (Lucille Ball) is in love with Pete and frequently tries to give unwelcome advice.

The shake-up in Pete’s life begins when he starts to experience health problems. The sensible thing to do would be to drop from the team, but his commitment to Liza keeps him playing the game. Pete acknowledges that high-maintenance Liza sticks to him for the glamour, the clout, and the money of being a pro player’s wife. She tells him, “I don’t like has-beens. They’re not men any more.”

Lizabeth Scott, probably best known for her film noir roles, gets the lead female part here, and her apartment decorated with baroque touches shows how out-of-touch she is with the world of lucrative interior design. Directed by Jacques Tourneur, Easy Living has a strong script based on an Irwin Shaw novel. With a solid supporting cast (including Lloyd Nolan in the role of Chief’s manager Lenahan) this a decent film that seems to have undeservedly faded into obscurity.

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