Showing posts with label Edward Arnold. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Edward Arnold. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Hide-Out (1934)

Playboy racketeer Jack "Lucky" Wilson (Robert Montgomery) is out on the town, breaking hearts and taking names. His latest racket is coercing two New York City night club owners, Shuman (Henry Armetta) and Jake (Herman Bing), into a partnership with his laundry syndicate. But the cops, including detectives MacCarthy (Edward Arnold) and Britt (Edward Brophy), are hot on his trail. After a confrontation with the police Wilson is shot but manages to escape and drive off. He heads upstate but passes out from his injury. Wilson is rescued by a local town clerk and farmer, Henry Miller (Whitford Kane), who brings him to his home to recover. Wilson tells Miller that he escaped a gangster, and hides the fact that he's one himself, and insists on having his doctor check up on him to not raise suspicion. While Wilson recuperates from his gunshot wound, he meets Miller's daughter Pauline (Maureen O'Sullivan), who is his polar opposite. She's a simple country gal and he's fast talking city guy. The Miller family is kind, generous and patient. Ma Miller (Elizabeth Patterson) fusses over Wilson and their young son William (don't call him Willie!) (Mickey Rooney), makes every effort to befriend Wilson. He learns to feed chickens, milk cows, chop wood and bring in the hay and enjoying the country life. Wilson stays longer than he should, falling in love with the beautiful Pauline. Will Wilson fess up or will he go back to his life of crime?

Hide-Out (1934) is based on an original story by Mauri Grashin and adapted for the screen by husband and wife writing team Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich. Grashin received an Academy Award nomination for his story which was remade in 1941 as I'll Wait for You. The film was released August of 1934, just a month after Hollywood began to enforce the Hays Code began in earnest, officially ending the Pre-Code era of Hollywood filmmaking. I wonder if this affected the outcome of Hide-Out. What kind of story would it have been as a Pre-Code?

The film was directed by W.S. Van Dyke for MGM. He also directed The Thin Man movies, a point referenced in the marketing materials for this movie. Van Dyke, known as One-Take Woody, was MGM's go-to guy. He built a reputation on being a reliable director who would take on any production and keep it on schedule and under budget. Hide-Out was filmed, edited and released in a two month span. There was some delay however. According to the AFI, during pre-production Maureen O'Sullivan had to drop out to visit her ailing father in Ireland. Loretta Young replaced her only to have to drop out herself due to illness and was replaced with O'Sullivan.

Hide-Out is one of my favorite 1930s films. It's a sweet and charming romance. I love the concept of a city gangster out of his element in the country. Montgomery's Wilson and O'Sullivan's Pauline really develop as characters. He teaches her to be more bold. She teaches him to take pleasure in the simple things in life. Mickey Rooney is just adorable in this movie as Pauline's little brother. If you're not a fan of his on screen intensity, you might like his more subdued performance here as William/Willie. 

Hide-Out (1934) is available on DVD-MOD from the Warner Archive Collection. When you use my buy link you help support this site. Thanks!

This is Hide-Out's DVD debut. I always watch this one when it's on TCM and was very excited to see it get a DVD release. George, Matt and D.W. discuss the movie on the November 13, 2018 episode of the Warner Archive Podcast.

Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. Thank you to Warner Archive for sending me a copy of Hide-Out (1934) on DVD for review!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Wallflower (1948)

Robert Hutton, Joyce Reynolds and Janis Paige in Wallflower (1948)

Sisters Jackie (Joyce Reynolds) and Joy (Janis Paige) are polar opposites. Joy is the flirtatious fun-loving one, always getting attention from the opposite sex. Jackie is the sensible one. A bit too sensible. She scares all the guys away with her straightforward demeanor. While on leave from college, Jackie and Joy are back home with their rather ditzy but well-meaning parents Mr. Linnett (Edward Arnold) and Mrs. Linnett (Barbara Brown). Jackie is excited to see her old pal Warren James (Robert Hutton). Warren is smitten with Jackie and the feeling is mutual. After having not seen each other in 5 years they both are surprised and pleased to see each other again. However, the voluptuous Jo, clad in a scintillating bathing suit, catches Warren's eye. Much to Jackie's chagrin those two start dating. When Mr. and Mrs. Linnett sponsor a local country club dance, everyone's got a date except for Jackie. Will Jackie be able to come out of her shell and blossom from wallflower to desirable match for Warren? Will Warren realize that Jackie, not Joy, is the girl for him?

Released by Warner Bros. Wallflower (1948) is a whacky screwball comedy. Just the sort of light fare needed for a post-WWII generation. It's directed by Frederick De Cordova who is best known as the longtime executive of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He worked on the show for 22 years and stayed on in an advisory capacity when Jay Leno took over and did so until his death in 2001. In the mid-to-late 1940s De Cordova was mostly working on romantic comedies. Wallflower was based on a play by Reginald Denham and Mary Orr. It was adapted to the screen by husband and wife team Henry and Phoebe Ephron. The Ephrons worked together on numerous films including There's No Business Like Show Business (1954), Daddy Long Legs (1955), and Captain Newman M.D. (1963). They're also the parents of one of my favorite directors/writers Nora Ephron.

The story starts off as a sweet family comedy about two very close sisters, as different as can be, and their meddling yet clueless parents. When Hutton's Warren steps into the picture it escalates into a screwball comedy complete with a drunken attempt at elopement. Several scenes in the film reminded me of Good News (1947) and It's a Wonderful Life (1946). There's nothing earth shattering here. This is light 1940s fluff for people who love 1940s fluff. And if that's not your thing then this movie is not for you.

As of the publication of this article, female leads Joyce Reynolds and Janis Paige are still with us. This is quite remarkable for a film from the 1940s! Reynolds had a very short lived career with Warner Bros. Just as she was getting more starring roles in films, she abruptly retired from the film industry after making her final movie Girl's School (1950). Paige went on to have a long career in TV and film. Reynolds and Paige are a delight in Wallflower. I love that their characters are not pitted against each other even with their differences and competition for the same man. There's no real animosity between the two.

Wallflower (1948) is new to DVD and available from the Warner Archive Collection. When you use my buy links you help support this site. Thanks!

George, Matt and D.W. discuss Wallflower on the Warner Archive Podcast's October Sweet Horror episode (about 18 minutes). George Feltenstein calls the film "buoyant and charming".

Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. Thank you to Warner Archive for sending me a copy of Wallflower (1948) for review!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Sadie McKee (1934)

Franchot Tone, Akim Tamiroff, Joan Crawford and Edward Arnold in Sadie McKee (1934)
Franchot Tone, Akim Tamiroff, Joan Crawford and Edward Arnold in Sadie McKee (1934)

On the heels of Dancing Lady (1933), MGM teamed up off screen couple Joan Crawford and Franchot Tone for another on screen romance in Sadie McKee (1944). But it seems like Hollywood wouldn't let Crawford be the apple of one eye. She has to be desired by several. Crawford stars as Sadie McKee, a maid working for the wealthy Alderson family. Michael Alderson (Franchot Tone) has returned home to discover that Sadie has blossomed into a beauty. But Sadie is in love with the formerly employed Tommy (Gene Raymond). The two run off to New York together and plan to marry. Sadie befriends Opal (Jean Dixon), a street-wise dame with a penchant for a good time. While the two are waiting for Tommy to show up at the courthouse for the wedding, he runs off with show girl Dolly (Esther Ralston). Sadie is destitute of both money and love. She starts a new life as a show girl (plus a little more) to make ends meet. That's when she meets the incredibly wealthy and incredibly drunk Jack Brennan (Edward Arnold). Brennan is smitten with her and through marriage offers her an opportunity to get ahead. Sadie takes advantage of this even though it puts her in the precarious situation of taking care of an alcoholic. She also suffers the disdain of Brennan's friend and her old acquaintance Alderson and Brennan's staff including his butler Finnegan (Leo G. Carroll). Sadie takes on the task of saving Brennan from himself, closing one chapter in her life and starting a new one.

From the very beginning it's established that Sadie McKee is the ideal physical specimen of womanhood. She has enough sass and sex appeal to keep men interested. And the three men she lures are all grossly inadequate. Tommy can't be held down, Brennan suffers from advanced alcoholism and Alderson is a spoiled rich playboy. Although Sadie is swayed by her emotions. she's the only one of the four who seems to have her shit together. She also has the support of her best friend and frequent voice of reason, Opal. The role of Sadie McKee fits Joan Crawford's persona perfectly. She embodied the spirit of the working girl who moves up the ranks and proves her worth. It's satisfying to watch her in parts like this. One could say that Sadie McKee is the pre-code precursor to Mildred Pierce (1945).

1934 brought on a tougher enforcement of the Hays Production Code. Sadie McKee slips in just in time and there are a few elements that classify it as a pre-code film. For example, the unmarried Sadie and Tommy sleep in the same bedroom together, albeit with her in the bed and him on the chair. Sexpot neighbor Dolly, played by Esther Ralston, channels Mae West and lures Tommy away from Sadie. When Dolly and Sadie have a showdown later in the film Dolly suggests that Sadie is a glorified prostitute. Pre-Code expert Danny Reid also points out that when Opal and Sadie are at city hall waiting for Tommy, a police officer approaches them and asks if they're getting married. He says it in a way that both suggests they might be marrying each other but also that they're waiting for their fiancees. I'd also like to point out the scene in which Finnegan the butler, played by Leo G. Carroll in his first on screen role, undresses a drunk Brennan (Edward Arnold), preparing him for bed. It's an oddly intimate scene that lingers just enough to give time for the audience to wonder.

Sadie McKee is based on a story by Vina Delmar who wrote many novels, short stories and screenplays including The Awful Truth (1937). She appears in the trailer for Sadie McKee as you can see below. The story suffers from trying to do too much. It starts off as a sweet romance between two people who escape the upstairs-downstairs life for a fresh start in New York City. Then it takes a twist when it becomes a story of a poor show girl who marries a rich alcoholic. Then it takes a somber tone when the first couple are reunited. And then of course Franchot Tone's continual attraction and momentary disgust for Sadie/Crawford adds several more plot points. One could say that Sadie McKee is an epic that didn't quite reach it's potential.

Even with its many flaws this is a gem of a film. Its such a joy to see cast members like Crawford, Tone, Arnold, Carroll, Raymond, Ralston and Dixon in action. Not to mention one of my personal favorites, Akim Tamiroff who plays night club owner Riccorri. I'll watch him in anything. Also in the movie are singer Gene Austin and the jazz duo Candy and Coco who all make their screen debut and play a couple of numbers in the movie.

Sadie McKee ad from The Film Daily April-June 1934
Sadie McKee ad from The Film Daily April-June 1934

Sadie McKee got mixed reviews but still proved profitable enough for MGM that after a batch of successful films Crawford was able to renegotiate her contract. According to Joan Crawford biographer Donald Spoto, Crawford said, "I was pretty unhappy with the way the picture was cut. Perhaps it will make sense, but I doubt it."

Interesting fact: The Library Hotel in New York City plays Sadie McKee on a loop on a TV in their rooftop lounge. I've attended a few parties in that space and that movie is always on. I couldn't find any information why that film in particular was selected for the loop. It's a curious choice especially considering their rooftop bar is just around the corner. Maybe they thought a sobering film about alcoholism might encourage patrons to drink less.

Sadie McKee (1934) DVD

Sadie McKee (1934) is available from the Warner Archive Collection. You can buy the DVD-R from the WB Shop by using this link.

Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. Thank you to the Warner Archive for sending me a copy of Sadie McKee (1934) for review!

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