Showing posts with label Zasu Pitts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Zasu Pitts. 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).

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Gay Bride (1934)

Chester Morris, Nat Pendleton, Carole Lombard and Zasu Pitts in The Gay Bride (1934)

1934 was a transitional year in the film industry. The Hays Code, which had been in effect for years but not strictly enforced, was now the law of the land. Hollywood got away with a lot in those few years between the advent of talking pictures and the enforcement of the Code. Pre-Code films went on to become a genre much beloved by future generations of film buffs because of how these early 1930s films pushed boundaries. In an effort to conform to this new censorship, post-code films went through a scrubbing of content, washing away much of what titillated audiences . In 1934 especially, filmmakers were trying to figure out how to get their pre-code stories to fit into this new post-code mold. The Gay Bride (1934) is an example of how fitting a round peg into a square hole just didn't quite work out.

The Gay Bride stars Carole Lombard as Mary, a chorus girl looking to lock her wealthy racketeer boyfriend Shoots Magiz (Nat Pendleton) into holy matrimony. Ignoring the warnings of her trusty sidekick Mirabelle (Zasu Pitts), she manages to snag her cash cow. Due to the nature of his business and its occupational hazards, Mary makes quick work to secure her fortune. On her wedding night, her lawyer finalizes Shoots' will and the next day they set off on a cruise to Europe so Mary can shop to her hearts delight. When Shoots and Mary come back from their mostly disastrous trip (only Greece would have them), more trouble awaits. Shoot's assistant Jimmie (Chester Morris), affectionately referred to as Office Boy, is the only member of Shoots' crew with any common sense. He tries to protect his boss from his impending financial failure but can't protect him from the ill intentions of Mikey The Greek (Leo Carillo) and Daniel J. Dingle (Sam Hardy). All three men have an eye for Mary and one of them is set on removing Shoots permanently. Mary's desire for financial security hangs in the balance as she discovers that mob life is more than she bargained for.

"I wondered when you boys were going to tumble."

Based on Charles Francis Coe's novel Repeal, the title was changed and the story adapted to the screen by husband and wife writing team Sam and Bella Spewack, best known for their collaboration on Broadway play turned movie Kiss Me Kate. This is the only MGM film featuring Paramount star Carole Lombard. MGM was known for quality productions (or as Warner Archive's George Feltenstein called it "the Tiffany's of movie studios) and Lombard assumed this film would be one too. However, her costar Chester Morris knew it was a dud from the start. The film was directed by Jack Conway, a mainstay in the MGM stable of talent. Conway could be counted on to deliver movies to the studio execs on budget and on time.

The Gay Bride was panned by critics and did not perform well at the box office. However Carole Lombard was a bankable star and theatres made the most of it. According to Carole Lombard biographer Michelle Morgan, "The idea of Carole playing a 'gold-digging chiseller' inspired the Lowe's State Theatre in New Orleans to give out special 'Chiseller Club' membership cards to their patrons, with Carole listed as secretary. Nearby stores were also utilized and included movie-inspired floral displays in bridal shops and hair displays in a beauty parlor."

Chester Morris, Carole Lombard and Nat Pendleton in The Gay Bride (1934)

"When you missed meals as a kid money becomes awfully important."

The story had a lot of potential. I was particularly interested in Mary's motivations. She's a glamorous chorus girl who courts the attention of notorious racketeer. Having grown up desperately poor she's hell bent on having a financially secure future. In one scene, Mary tells Mirabelle that she's not about a quick buck rather she wants to have enough money to live comfortably into her 50s, 60s and beyond. A richer story would have explored Mary's history and fleshed out the characters. The final result is a movie that is enjoyable but on the whole superficial.

The Gay Bride is a hybrid of several popular genres. It starts out as a backstage story, morphs into a gangster flick, then into a screwball comedy and ends with a romance. Tying it all together is this thread living through the Great Depression. While the story and characters are lacking, viewers will be delighted by the superb cast including some 1930s all-stars like Carole Lombard, Chester Morris, Nat Pendleton and Zasu Pitts, who are all personal favorites of mine. Actor Gene Lockhart has a small uncredited role. The movie's dialogue is witty and I found myself writing down several fun quotes. I'd be interested in reading the original source material to see what potential there was in making The Gay Bride/Repeal into a Pre-Code film.

The Gay Bride (1934) is available on DVD-MOD from the Warner Archive Collection. You can hear the WAC trio George, D.W. and Matt discuss the film on 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 The Gay Bride (1934) to review!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Guy Kibbee Triple Feature

Guy Kibbee
Guy Kibbee. Photo source: Getty Images

Guy Kibbee is a beloved silver screen figure among many contemporary classic film fans, myself included. Just hearing his name brings me joy. I know whenever Guy Kibbee appears in the credits of a movie that I'm in for a real treat. Kibbee was a Warner Bros. contract player in the 1930s and 1940s. He played a variety of roles where he showcased his talents as a character actor. He's known for memorable characters in some of my favorite films including Union Depot (1931), The Crowd Roars (1931), 42nd Street (1933), Gold Diggers of 1933, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). He held his own in smaller roles but had the chops and on screen charisma for leading roles too.

A new DVD release from the Warner Archive Collection showcases three Guy Kibbee movies in which the beloved character actor shines in leading roles. Each film is 60-70 minutes long making it easy to binge watch all three in a row.

The Big Noise (1936)

Guy Kibbee The Big Noise (1936)

The Big Noise (1936) stars Guy Kibbee as textile manufacturing president Julius Trent. Quality work and a good reputation over profits: that's what Julius believes in. Unfortunately he's in the minority and has been voted out as president. With too much time on his hands and a wife fussing over his health, he secretly buys 50% of a local laundry shop under the guise Tom Douglas. The joint comes with a new partner, the handsome and bright Ken (Warren Hull) who is enthusiastic for business and has a degree in chemistry. Not knowing Tom's true identity, he happens to fall in love with Julius' daughter Betty (Alma Lloyd).  The business also comes with air-headed assistant Daisy (Marie Wilson) and a talkative parrot. Little do Tom/Julius and Ken know but the previous owner owes money to the mob syndicate that terrorizes the laundry shops in the neighborhood. Tom/Julius must find a way to extricate them from the mob and save the business.

Directed by Frank McDonald and based on a story by Edward Hartman, is a light comedy with a darker side. I was surprised the turn the story took when the protagonist comes up with a plan to save the business. Kibbee is endearing as the business tycoon who refuses to take it easy. Henry O'Neill has a terribly small part as Tom/Julius' friend and former colleague. Warren Hull was absolutely charming as Ken but it was a bit unbelievable that a handsome, intelligent and business savvy man like him would want to own a small laundry shop.

Going Highbrow (1935)

Guy Kibbee in Going Highbrow (1935)

Going Highbrow (1935) stars Guy Kibbee and Zasu Pitts as Matt and Cora Upshaws. These Kansas millionaires don't know what to do with their new-found wealth. They come to New York City after a trip to Europe, and as soon as Cora Upshaw steps off the ship she sets out to become the renowned socialite she believes herself to be. Cora is awkward yet eager and Matt just wants a simple life dining on ham and eggs instead of caviar and champagne. Members of New York society Augie (Edward Everett Horton) and Harley (Ross Alexander) set to drain the Upshaws of some of their money by hosting a soiree in their honor. Matt Upshaw hires his favorite waitress Sandy (June Martel) to play his socialite daughter and hilarity inevitably ensues.

Directed by Robert Florey, Going Highbrow based on the story Social Pirates by Ralph Spence. The film showcases the comedic talents of Kibbee, Pitts and Horton, three of the most. This is one of three films Pitts and Kibbee made together. They were well suited to their roles and a joy to watch on screen. Ross Alexander overdoes it in his role and it loses it's intended comedic effect. I was delighted by June Martel who is new to me. Pitts and Martels wear beautiful gowns designed by Orry-Kelly. Pitts steals the show a bit from Kibbee but he manages to hold his own as the lovable Matt Upshaw.

Mary Jane's Pa (1935)

Guy Kibbee in Mary Jane's Pa (1935)

They saved the best for last...

Mary Jane's Pa (1935) stars Aline MacMahon as Ellen Preston. Her husband Sam (Guy Kibbee), a newspaper publisher, has abandoned the family and the business when the urge to travel becomes too strong for him to deny. His wanderlust takes him away for 10 years and Ellen must make a new life for herself with their two daughters Mary Jane (Betty Jean Hainey) and Lucille (Nan Grey). Ellen has taken over the newspaper business and moved the family away. Sam travels with a carnival as Jonah Barker, hoping to find his family along the way. At one stop, hevmeets Mary Jane and soon discovers she's his daughter. Sam/Jonah tries to get back in with Ellen who is having none of it. He takes a job as the Preston family housekeeper and helps bring to light a secret scandal involving a major election. Can Sam earn back the love of his family?

Directed by William Keighley, Mary Jane's Pa was based on the play of the same name by Edith Ellis Furness. This film stood out of the three not only because it was the only drama in a set with two comedies but because of the quality of the story telling and the connection I felt with the characters. Fathers abandoned families, this is a harsh truth of the era and also happens today. I was interested to see how it played out in this story. Aline MacMahon and Kibbee appeared in 10 films together and they have great chemistry. John Arledge has a small but charming role as Linc, Ellen's gossip columnist. Tom Brown, who I recognized from Anne of Green Gables (1934), plays Lucille's boyfriend King. Out of the three movies, Kibbee's role in Mary Jane's Pa had the most depth and was by far the most interesting.

Guy Kibbee Triple Feature with The Big Noise (1936), Going Highbrow (1935) and Mary Jane's Pa (1935) is available on DVD-MOD from the Warner Archive. This set is a must-have for anyone who loves Guy Kibbee. And those people are easy to find. You can buy the DVD at the WB Shop. Using my buy links helps support this site. Thanks!

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 the Guy Kibbee Triple Feature to review!

If you've read this far you are in for a special treat! I'm giving away an extra copy of the Guy Kibbee Triple Feature. This contest is exclusive to this post, available for participants ages 18+, US/CAN only.

Follow these instructions carefully: to enter, leave a comment below telling me about your favorite Guy Kibbee movie and use whisper code: "Thanks Warner Archive!" somewhere in your reply. For an extra entry, tweet my article (just click on the link for a pre-populated tweet), grab the tweet's direct URL and include it in your comment.

Contest ends Thursday December 21st at midnight. Winner will be announced on Friday. good luck!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Warner Archive Wednesday ~ Hildegarde Withers Mysteries Collection

The Hildegarde Withers Mysteries Movies Collection from Warner Bros.

The Hildegarde Withers Mysteries  was a B-movie detective serial from RKO. It consists of six films each of which follow busybody schoolmarm Hildegarde Withers as she assists the disgruntled Inspector Oscar Piper in various murder investigations. They are based on the popular Hildegarde Withers novels by author Stuart Palmer (who also wrote some of the scripts for another B movie detective serial: The Falcon).

Edna May Oliver plays Miss Withers in the first three films, Helen Broderick plays her in the fourth and the series finishes with Zasu Pitts in the fifth and sixth films. Each of the three actresses bring their own unique spin to the Hildegarde Withers character. The only consistency you'll find is with James Gleason who plays Oscar Piper in all six films.

Source: Warner Archive Tumblr
 Withers to Piper: "Stop acting like a movie detective!"

Penguin Pool Murder (1932) - A school field trip, lost hat pin, a love triangle, a sad
aquarium and a curious penguin.  The story starts off with a fairly straightforward scenario: an unhappily married woman and her lover encounter her husband at an aquarium and the husband is killed. But the situation proves to be a lot more complicated than we originally thought. Visiting school teacher Hildegarde Withers (Edna May Oliver) assists Inspector Oscar Piper (James Gleason) in the investigation, much to his initial dismay. This film features the saddest aquarium you will ever see. It's difficult to watch the aquarium scenes and not weep for those poor creatures who are trapped in dirty tanks and cramped pools.

Murder on the Blackboard (1934) - A murdered teacher, a secret stash of liquor, an Irish lottery, and musical notes. Withers calls upon Piper when a music teacher is murdered at her school. This film is probably the most frightening of all three and squeamish viewers should be glad that this is the 1930s and you won't find the gore that a modern day forensics drama would gleefully dish out. By the second film Withers and Piper are a crime-fighting team and Piper, while still critical of Withers, relies on her more as a detective and continues to do so in the following films.

Personal note: This story hit a little too close to home because of a recent real-life incident in which a local school teacher was murdered at her school.

Source: Warner Archive Tumblr

Murder on a Honeymoon (1935) -A seaplane, poison cigarettes, a movie producer, mistaken identity and a curious dog. Miss Withers goes on vacation to the Catalina Islands but she can't seem to escape murders. The seem to follow her everywhere! A man is poisoned on the plane and everyone on board is a suspect. Because the person killed is tied into a trial in Inspector Piper's jurisdiction, he travels to Catalina and Withers and Piper join forces to solve the mystery. This one is probably my favorite of the bunch and the last one for Oliver as Withers. Look for Matt McHugh, Frank McHugh's brother, who plays one of the pilots of the seaplane.

Murder on the Bridle Path (1936)- Horses, a recently released convict, a sickly man, a betrayal and revenge. Helen Broderick plays a sophisticated and well-dressed version of Withers. She was my favorite of the three actresses who played Withers although Edna May Oliver really establishes the character and both Broderick and Pitts take the character in different directions. It's a rather weak film but interesting nonetheless.

The Plot Thickens (1936) - A museum, an astrology obsessed cop, upstairs/downstairs conflict and a stolen antique cup. This complicated and convoluted plot that starts off with a man murdered because he was mistaken for someone else and an antique cup from an art museum is stolen. Both Withers and Pipers try to solve both mysteries simultaneously. Zasu Pitts plays a clumsier and more aloof Hildegarde Withers.

Forty Naughty Girls (1937) - A plagiarist, a musical, a director with a roving eye and a bait-and-switch. Hildegarde Withers and Oscar Piper are on a date! All fancied up, in clothes that really don't suit them, Withers and Piper head to the theater to see the Forty Naughty Girls musical on stage. They are not in their seats long before they are both called to investigate a murder backstage. Interesting premise but ended up being the weakest and most boring of all of the films. Not a great way to wrap up the series. While I adore Zasu Pitts, I feel like she was miscast as Withers.

There is noticeable romantic tension between Withers and Piper. Piper proposes at the end of the first two films and they are on a date in the last film. They never consummate their relationship so while they act like a married couple, the tension between this spinster and confirmed bachelor elevates the comedy.

I enjoyed the first three films, felt the fourth one was so-so and the last two films left me very disappointed. The change in actresses for the Withers character hurt the series overall. James Gleason's portrayal of Oscar Piper is wonderful and the only real substantial thing that holds the series together and gives it some consistency. I recommend this film for hardcore 1930s or B-movie detective serial enthusiasts only. If you want to try out a mystery serial, I recommend the Charlie Chan or The Falcon series instead.

The Hildegarde Withers Mysteries Collection is available on DVD MOD from Warner Archive. It's a two disc set with all six films.

Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. I received the Hildegarde Withers Mysteries Collection from Warner Archive for review.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Ruggles of Red Gap (1935)

Ruggles of Red Gap (1935) is a charming movie, adapted from the 1915 novel by Harry Leon Wilson which also became a popular Broadway show. Directed by Leo McCarey, a fine director who explored many social issues in his films, this Paramount movie has a superb cast including Charles Laughton, ZaSu Pitts, Mary Boland, Charles Ruggles, Roland Young and Leila Hyams.

This is just the feel-good film that is perfect for lifting ones spirit on a gloomy day. And that's just what this film did for me. These past few weeks have consisted of tightly packed schedules with few breaks and many opportunities for anxiety attacks. When I finally got a break, I needed a film to make me feel good about life and that's just what Ruggles of Red Gap did for me.

Charles Laughton stars as Marmaduke "Bill" Ruggles, a British butler whose superior, the Earl of Burnstead (Roland Young), lost him in a poker game. The winners of that game were the American Couple Egbert (Charles Ruggles) and Effie Floud (Mary Boland). These nouveau rich country folk from Red Gap, Washington are in Paris to soak up some culture courtesy of their oil fortune. Effie is particularly interested in climbing the social ladder and thinks Ruggles will be a wonderful trophy to show off to her friends back home. Ruggles is uncomfortable working for Americans, breaking the traditions he's worked so hard for years to uphold, and it shows in the sometimes obvious and sometimes subtle facial expressions Laughton gives to the Ruggles character.

"Well, well you old tarantula!"

Something happens to Ruggles when he moves to Red Gap with this new couple. His new superior Mr. Egbert Floud's personality starts to rub off on him. Egbert doesn't have the same appetite for sophistication hat his wife does. He wants only to be his fun-loving cowpoke self.

"Hey, we just met. Squat-ez vous."
When the townsfolk confuse Ruggles for a Colonel of the British Army instead of just a butler, Ruggles finds an opportunity to reinvent himself and live the American dream of freedom, prosperity and success.

"...miraculously there comes a man. A person of importance, however small. A man whose decisions and whose future are  in his own hands." - Ruggles
Ruggles falls for the local spinster Prunella (ZaSu Pitts) and starts to make his own plans for life other than being a butler. All the performances are splendid. I loved Laughton, Pitts, Boland and Ruggles especially. Roland Young and Leila Hyams have interesting supporting roles and I love the character of Belknap-Jackson played by Lucien Littlefield.

"I tell you that Belknap-Jackson is a Boston Cream Puff!"
At one point the film takes a rather strange patriotic turn. There is one scene in which a bunch of guys in a Red Gap tavern are struggling to remember what Lincoln said during his Gettysburg Address but Ruggles knows every word. According to what I found online, this scene was very emotional for Charles Laughton and he remembered it fondly. During filming the British Laughton was considering applying for American citizenship.

This film is a wonderful comedy which is elevated by it's exploration of social issues of class and personal freedom. There are sober moments, times when you laugh out loud at the exploits of the Floud couple and when your heart is touched by tender scenes between Ruggles and Prunella Judson (Pitts). At the end of the film, I found myself crying in the best possible way there is to cry. McCarey's Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) made me cry hysterically but Ruggles of Red Gap made me cry tears of joy.

Please watch this film if you can. If stories can still move you emotionally and you haven't grown completely numb to them, let this film in. You'll be a better person for it.

Ruggles of Red Gap is one of the many movies Universal acquired from Paramount. It's part of the Universal Vault Series on DVD-R. I rented it from ClassicFlix (they don't have it for sale). There is also a Blu-Ray version. Both DVD and Blu-Rays look to be out of print or their availability is limited. I'm hoping to purchase this one but can't find where I can get a new copy!

ETA: Laura of Laura's Miscellaneous Musings tells me that Universal Vault Series are sold exclusively on Amazon but there is talk of making them available at other retailers in the future.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Warner Archive Wednesday ~ Tish (1942)

Tish from Warner Bros.

Where do I begin? How do I even talk about such an odd movie? Oh dear! Well, here goes nothing...

Tish (1942) is an adaptation of the Tish stories by Mary Roberts Rinehart. Tish Carberry (Marjorie Main) is part of a threesome of spinsters which includes Aggie Pilkington (Zasu Pitts) and Lizzie Wilkins (Aline MacMahon). Together they cause all sorts of ruckus in their small New England town. Tish lives in her childhood home, now owned by her nephew Charlie Sands (Lee Bowman), and her friends live in a nearby boarding house along with the orphaned teenager Cora Edwards (Susan Peters). All three ladies practically raise Cora.

Now let's add some romantic entanglements, shall we? Cora is in love with Charlie who is newly engaged to Kit Bowser (Virginia Grey) whose brother Ted (Richard Quine) is in love with Cora. That's quite a mess, no? Tish tries to meddle in the love lives of the young folks by trying to fix Cora up with Charlie. She takes them on a camping trip together (some hilarious moments ensue) but Cora has a change of heart. Charlie marries Kit in a church ceremony and Cora and Ted secretly elope before Ted is sent off to war.

So far this film is a light comedy about three delightful spinsters in a small New England town and the young people in their lives. The romantic entanglement, more of a circle than a triangle, gets settled but then the story takes a bizarre turn for the worst.


Cora becomes pregnant, finds out Ted is lost at sea, faints, has her baby and dies. Yes, dies. What the heck? Tish finds out about the baby and takes him into her care. But realizes that it might be a bit complicated because the baby is not hers nor did she go through the proper channels to legally adopt him. So Tish tells everyone she had the baby. No one believes her because she's too old to have a baby. She is so adamant that everyone starts to think she's crazy. Charlie reluctantly puts her in a mental institution. Eventually things resolve themselves and there is a happy yet somewhat bittersweet surprise at the end but good grief.


What could have been just a light 1940s comedy turned out to be a rather bizarre curio of the time. I haven't read the Tish stories so I'm not sure how much this film stays true to the original tales.

This film is notable because of Susan Peters and she's the main reason I watched the film. Playing Cora in Tish (1942) was Susan Peters' first substantial role at MGM. Studio heads were impressed with her and she went on to do Random Harvest (1942) and several other films. Peters was being groomed to become a leading lady and a starlet all thanks to the film Tish. Also, Susan Peters met her future husband Richard Quine while making this film. Peters and Quine married the following year, adopted a son and later divorced in 1948. Susan Peters became paralyzed as a result of a hunting accident in 1945, continued to have health problems and died in 1952 (it's a complicated story that I won't go into in this post). Researching the life of Susan Peters is a pet project of mine so it was imperative that I watch Tish (1942).

Susan Peters is really delightful in this film as are the other actors. So if you are a fan of anyone in the cast, Tish is worth at least one viewing. I'd like to also point out that Guy Kibbee has a supporting role as Judge Bowser (father of the characters Kit and Ted). Kibbee has some hilarious scenes and his character is often put in embarrassing situations courtesy of the three spinsters. Note that Aline MacMahon and Guy Kibbee played a couple in Gold Diggers of 1933 so it's nice to see them together again in Tish!

One last note for vintage hair and fashion enthusiasts. Watch this film for the outfits and hairstyles of Susan Peters and Virginia Grey. You'll get lots of ideas because the wardrobe and hair departments took extra effort grooming these two young ladies for the film.

Tish  (1942) is available on DVD MOD from Warner Archive.

Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. I received Tish (1942) from Warner Archive for review.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Warner Archive Wednesday ~ It All Came True (1940)

"Don't worry about me baby. I got myself covered both ways from the middle." Humphrey Bogart as Chips Maguire

It All Came True (1940) is a little film with a big cast. The movie takes place in the Gay '90s (or maybe not, I couldn't quite tell. It could be that they were being nostalgic). The story follows the story of convict Chips Maguire (Humphrey Bogart) as he hides in a boarding house in order to avoid being arrested by the cops who are hot on his trail. He gets help from his buddy Tommy Taylor (Jeffrey Lynn), a musician who found himself on the wrong side of the tracks and in a whole lot of trouble.

Tommy takes Chips back to the home of his mom Mrs. Nora Taylor (Jessie Busley). They haven't seen each other in many years so it's a very sweet reunion. At the boarding home you'll find Sarah Ryan (Ann Sheridan), a beautiful wise-cracking dame who is having a bit of trouble with money so she's staying with her mom (Una O'Connor). Also at the boarding house is a cast of eccentric characters including Miss Flint played by the ever delightful Zasu Pitts. No one at the boarding house knows that Chips Maguire is a felon on the lam except for Tommy. But soon they start figuring out what is going on and Chips finds himself on edge.

Chips don't want no stinkin' broth!

I always have a difficult time picking out which film from the 1940s I want to watch. It's a tricky decade with me and if I chose a film it has to be just right. It was a comfort for me to see many of my favorite characters actors including Zasu Pitts, Una O'Conner (Christmas in Connecticut) and John Litel (Nancy Drew films).

Humphrey Bogart had been typecast in the 1930s as a gangster/criminal that it is very natural to him again in this role.  It All Came True comes just before Bogart's films High Sierra and Casablanca in which he breaks out of the mold Hollywood made for him and into major stardom.

It All Came True is somewhat typical of a 1940s film. Old people must be kooky, dames must be wise-cracking, the villain must not get his way and the good guy always wins in the end. Oh and all dogs are incredibly smart and well-trained!

Then there is Ann Sheridan as Sarah Ryan. She's a wise-cracking dame with a good heart.

Ann Sheridan strikes me as the sort of woman who was comfortable in her own skin. She seemed to exude a natural sort of self-confidence. This is just my assumption based on no real knowledge of Ann Sheridan as a person. All I know is that her woman-of-the-world persona is something I find very appealing about her as an actress. Her character is really the go-between of all the characters. She has prior knowledge of Chips Maguire, a history with Tommy, a deep bond with her mother even though sometimes they clash and familial relationship with all the boarders at the home. She's really the central character in the story that keeps things moving along.

And of course, there HAS to be a love story!

It All Came True (1940) is a film for those who want a quirky film with a fun cast of characters. Pair it with Hide-Out (1934) for a great double feature.

Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. Movies selected are rented from Classicflix or purchased from Warner Archive, Classicflix or TCM. This series is not sponsored by Warner Archive.

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