Friends of Mr. Sweeney (1934)

Back in his college days, Asaph “Ace” Holliday (Charlie Ruggles) and his best friend Wynn Rixey (Eugene Pallette) were known as a couple of the wildest guys in town.  But after spending a few years writing for The Balance, a newspaper run by Franklyn Brumbaugh, he’s turned into a different man.  Brumbaugh’s overly conservative nature has broken Asaph’s spirit.  Even his secretary Beulah (Ann Dvorak) has noticed a change in him.  When Asaph writes an unfavorable editorial about politician Stephen Prime, Brumbaugh orders it to be rewritten in a more positive way since he and Prime are friends.  The old Asaph would have thrown that editorial right in Burmbaugh’s face, but the new Asaph reluctantly agrees.

One day, he gets a telegram from his old friend Rixey and starts reminiscing about the good old days.  Once he starts remembering how he used to be, he finally works up the nerve to ask Beulah to dinner.  She invites him to have dinner at her apartment, but when he arrives, he’s surprised to find her friends Millie and Alex, an outspoken communist, will be joining them.  He ends up getting drunk with them and while hungover the next morning, Asaph agrees to publish a tirade against Prime that Alex has written.  But when Prime finds out about the article Alex has written, he sets out to stop it any way he can.

When Rixey arrives town, Asaph is determined to prove that he’s still the same guy he used to be.  Asaph calls up Beulah, has her bring another girl, and the four of them head out to an exclusive club that they get into by pretending to be “friends of Mr. Sweeney.”  Asaph has no idea who Mr. Sweeney is, but it sounds impressive enough to get them in and give all of them a swell night at the club.  But as the night goes on and Asaph gets more in touch with his old self, he decides he’s going to stand up to Brumbaugh and write that editorial the way he wants to.  Asaph, Beulah, and Rixey head over to the newspaper offices to work on it (Asaph sent Beulah’s friend home when he decided she was too boring). When they arrive, they find Brumbaugh and his mistress being held at gunpoint.  Asaph manages to get the gun away from the burglar and uses it to hold the burglar, Brumbaugh, and his mistress at gunpoint while he writes the article the way he wants to.

I ended up liking Friends of Mr. Sweeney a lot more than I thought I would.  I didn’t have particularly high expectations for it, but it was really funny.  If you’re a fan of Charlie Ruggles, it’s definitely worth checking out.  He really knew how to get the most out of his material here.  Ann Dvorak was petty enjoyable as well.  If you’ve got about an hour to kill, watching this movie isn’t a bad way to spend it.

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