Showing posts with label Frank McHugh. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Frank McHugh. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Professional Sweetheart (1933)

"I want to sin and suffer. But right now I only suffer." - Glory

Miss Glory Eden (Ginger Rogers), aka The Purity Girl, is a radio sensation. Ipswich (Gregory Ratoff), the owner of the Ippsie Wippsie Wash Cloth Company, which runs their own sponsored radio station, is desperate to lock down Glory with a brand new contract. But Glory has other ideas. As the baby-voiced model of purity and innocence, the management team tightly controls her public image. Herbert (Franklin Pangborn) is in charge of Glory's wardrobe and diet and Ipswich's cohorts including his right-hand men Speed (Frank McHugh) and Winston (Frank Darien) do his bidding to protect their collective property. Glory is jealous of her maid Vera (Theresa Harris) who has a boyfriend and goes out dancing at night clubs in Harlem. Glory wants to live life on her terms! Complicating matters is Ipswich's rival the Kelsey Dish Rag Co. who wants to steal Glory away from them and sends agent O'Connor (Allen Jenkins) off to sabotage Ipswich's plans. So the Ippsie Wippsie crew comes up with a plan. They want to get Glory a beau. They zero in on Jim (Norman Foster), a simple country man from Kentucky who was plucked out of a batch of prospective fan letters. They bring him to New York City and thus starts the media circus of publicity stunts that journalists, including the clueless Elmerada (Zasu Pitts) and mid-mannered Stu (Sterling Holloway), just lap up. No one stops to think what Glory really wants... except for Jim. Will Glory find true happiness in the midst of all of this chaos?

Professional Sweetheart (1933) was directed by William A. Seiter for RKO. The story was written by Maurine Dallas Watkins, best known for her stage play Chicago. This Ginger Rogers' first film for RKO and later that year she signed her own contract with them. Norman Foster was loaned out from Fox to play the leading man.

The biggest draw for me to this film was the cast. There were so many of my favorites crammed into one 79 minute movie: Ginger Rogers, Theresa Harris, Frank McHugh, Allen Jenkins, Zasu Pitts and Sterling Holloway. Wow! My perennial favorite Akim Tamiroff has a small role as the hotel waiter who takes Frank Pangborn's elaborate food order.

Speaking of food, I love to see how it's represented in early films. I was delighted with one scene in particular when characters discuss what they'd like to order from the hotel room service.

What Glory (Ginger Rogers) wants to order: caviar, lobster in wine, avocado salad, champagne, fruit salad with whipped cream, nuts and maraschino cherries
What Herbert (Franklin Pangborn) orders for Glory: breast of young chicken on whole wheat toast with no mayonnaise, unsalted butter, baked apples with cream (certified not pasteurized), cocoa (not chocolate).
What Herbert (Franklin Pangborn) orders for himself: caviar, Lobster Thermidor, avocado salad, fruit salad with whipped cream, nuts and maraschino cherries, chocolate ice cream, hot fudge sauce and marshmallow cake.
What Speed (Frank McHugh) orders for Elmerada (Zasu Pitts) to delay her: Baked Alaska (because it takes 20 minutes to make.)

"You don't kiss like you look." - Glory

Professional Sweetheart warns viewers of the dangers of treating humans like commodities although it wraps up nicely in the end. Glory as a character can be insufferable with her spoiled behavior and tantrums. She wasn't winning any points from me with her blatant distaste for books. But you can't help sympathize with her. She just wants her personal freedom. That's something everyone deserves.

The film spices things up by featuring Ginger Rogers in various states of undress giving it some Pre-Code flavor. Allen Jenkins is probably the most suave I've ever seen him in a film role. As O'Connor he uses his knowledge of romantic relationships, women ("I know dames backwards.") and business to manipulate the different characters.

Unfortunately the racism in this film is quite palpable. The management team clearly wants to appeal to a conservative white audience ("It doesn't look good to the corn belt."). When they search for Glory's prospective beau they make it clear that he has to be as white and pure as possible. Especially after Glory has expressed her desire to visit Harlem. Frank McHugh's Speed travels to "Home of the Purest Anglo-Saxons" to find Jim (Norman Foster).

Theresa Harris has a marvelous role as Glory's maid and friend Vera. Glory wants Vera's lifestyle as a young woman living it up in New York City. Both Harris and her character get the shaft. Harris has a substantial role, even more so than Sterling Holloway who only speaks a few lines and gets on screen credit where Harris remains uncredited. Vera is Glory's superior when it comes to her singing skills and we get one glorious scene where Vera takes over Glory's show delivering a sexier and more adult voice over the waves. Vera disappears shortly after as the story wraps up in Glory's favor.

Professional Sweetheart (1933) is a lighthearted Pre-Code with a fantastic cast and a lot of charm. It suffers from the trappings of the era most notably in the depiction of gender and race.

Professional Sweetheart (1933) is available on DVD-MOD from the Warner Archive Collection and can be purchased at the WB Shop. When you use my buy links you help support this site. Thank you!

This is the film's DVD debut. George, D.W. and Matt of the Warner Archive Podcast discuss this film in the January episode Jungle Kings, Giants and Jokers.

Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I feature titles from the Warner Archive Collection. Thank you to Warner Archive for sending me copy of Professional Sweetheart (1933).

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

All Through the Night (1941)

All Through the Night - Authentic Region 1 DVD from Warner Brothers starring Humphrey Bogart, Conrad Veidt, Kaaren Verne, Jane Darwell, Frank Mc Hugh, Jackie Gleason, Peter Lorre, Barton Maclane, William Demarest & Directed by Vincent Sherman All Through the Night (1941) is a cheesecake murder-mystery with some Nazis thrown in for flavor. Bogie stars as Gloves Donahue (::snickers::) has been eating Miller's cheesecake for nearly a decade. When Mr. Miller is murdered by Pepi (Peter Lorre), Gloves runs into a swell looking but mysterious dame by the name of Leda (Kaaren Verne) who may be able to reveal who and why Miller was killed. Gloves rounds up a tag team of compadres including Sunshine (William Demarest), Starchy (Jackie Gleason) and Barney (Frank McHugh) to help solve the mystery. But they find a lot more than they bargained for. A whole underground cell of Nazis who are plotting a major attack on the city. What's a cheesecake-loving thug to do?! The plot is convoluted, as most early films about Nazis were, but the film is still enjoyable to watch.

Humphrey Bogart carries this film really well even though he threatens to be overshadowed by an amazing cast of character actors.

A very very young Jackie Gleason. Look at those baby cheeks! Don't you just want to squeeze them? Gleason doesn't have many scenes in this film but the ones he does stands out because of his wise-cracking lines as well as the novelty of him being a young Jackie Gleason!

Phil Silvers plays the waiter who dares to bring Gloves (Bogie) a slice of cheesecake that isn't from Millers. He's got some great lines at the beginning of the film and his facial expressions are hilarious!

William Demarest plays Sunshine, Gloves' right-hand man. Most of the time in mysteries like these the hero is by himself most of the time he's doing his investigation. Not in this film! Sunshine is by Gloves' side ready to take punches and fall off of balconies whenever Gloves needs him.

Barton MacLane plays the disgruntled club owner Marty Callahan who has the noive of dissing Gloves' ma! He doesn't realize that his club is being taken over by a bunch of stinkin' Nazis until Gloves smacks some sense into him!

Frank McHugh plays Barney, Gloves' sidekick and driver. Barney is sexually frustrated and during the whole story he meets a dame, gets engaged, gets married but never consummates the marriage because he's too busy helping Gloves and Sunshine in investigating the moider. McHugh is probably the funniest character in the film and the most enjoyable to watch. He's given a lot of great scenes and lines.

Judith Anderson, of Rebecca (1940) fame, plays the evil Madame. A Nazi suspicious of Leda (Bogie's gal) and her motives. I don't know about you, but it's always a delight when Judith Anderson appears in a film. Even if she plays evil most of the time.

Peter Lorre plays the evil Pepi who murders Mr. Miller or Miller's Bakery. He's creepy and childlike. Whenever he pops up on screen, we know something bad is going to happen. Fun fact, Lorre and Kaaren Verne (who plays Leda) married in real life a few years after this film was made.

There are several other great character actors in the film but these were just my favorites! Please give this lesser-known Bogie film a try!

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