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Nine Lives Are Not Enough (1941) was a typical Warner Bros. "B" film of its era, centering around the ever-popular world of newspaper reporters. Ronald Reagan starred as a reporter on the make for the "big story" who tries to prove that a millionaire believed to have committed suicide was, in fact, murdered.
It was a standard formulaic genre film, as Reagan later admitted, "You could always count on me to rush into a room, grab a phone and yell, 'Give me the city desk I've got a story that will crack this town wide open'."
Reagan had been going from film to film on the Warner lot, in both "B" pictures and the occasional "A" movie like Dark Victory (1939), but his performance in Nine Lives Are Not Enough caused studio head Jack Warner to take notice, writing "I saw Nine Lives Are Not Enough and it is a peachy picture." As Anne Edwards wrote in her biography Early Reagan, the movie "with its cumbersome title, low budget, short running time (sixty-one minutes) and weak marquee value (Reagan was the major name in the movie), had too many strikes against it to make the grade as a sleeper. Reagan's performance did set the front office to reevaluating his career."
Variety also approved of Reagan, calling him, "not only a brash reporter to end all screen reporters; he's also hilariously scatterbrained and devilishly resourceful. Reagan gives a superbly helter-skelter performance." The film also took kudos for being "crammed with lively action, comic situations and vivid characterizations. It opens with a wallop, has headlong pace and closes with an explosive climax....Yarn is in the form of a blazing whodunit, with suspense piled up and action so fast that the average spectator won't have time for the moment of calm thought needed to the villain. There's a bushel of newspaper stuff of the sort audiences love and although it's exaggerated beyond belief it's nearly all funny."
by Lorraine LoBianco
The Films of Ronald Reagan by Tony Thomas
Variety review, September 3, 1941
Early Reagan by Anne Edwards
Ronald Reagan in Hollywood by Stephen Vaughn