Edward Arnold

Sadie McKee 1934

Sadie McKee (1934)

Sadie McKee (Joan Crawford) works as a part-time maid in the home of the Alderson family, where her mother has worked as a cook for years. The Alderson’s son, Michael (Franchot Tone), has long had a crush on Sadie, but Sadie is in love with Tommy (Gene Raymond), who has just been fired from his job working for the Aldersons. While working at a dinner one night, she hears disparaging remarks about Tommy, tells them all off, and runs off to New York City with Tommy to get married.

Once they get into town, Sadie and Tommy meet Opal (Jean Dixon), an older, hardened nightclub performer who helps them get a room at a boarding house. They plan to marry the next day, but need to spend the morning looking for jobs. While Sadie is out job hunting, Tommy is taking a bath at the boarding house and when Dolly (Esther Ralston) overhears him singing, she recruits him to join her nightclub act. He accepts, but has to leave town immediately, leaving a heartbroken Sadie behind.

With some help from Opal, Sadie gets a job dancing in a nightclub and one night, a very drunk (and very rich) customer named Jack Brennan (Edward Arnold) insists that she join him at his table. It turns out that Michael is there with him that night. Michael warns Sadie to leave Jack alone, but she doesn’t listen and it isn’t long before they’re married. Although the marriage gives Sadie a boost in social status, she’s forced to deal with Jack’s alcoholism, which is on the verge of costing him his life. And although she deeply cares about Jack, her heart still hasn’t forgotten Tommy.

Sadie McKee is a pretty quintessential 1930s Joan Crawford movie. She plays a working class woman who finds herself moving into a higher class, she gets to wear some fabulous Adrian gowns, and it was directed by Clarence Brown, who worked very well with Joan. Plus it also starred one of her most famous co-stars, Franchot Tone. In addition to Tone and Crawford, Gene Raymond, Esther Ralston, Jean Dixon, and Edward Arnold are all great in their supporting roles. I thought Esther Ralston and Jean Dixon were particularly great in their respective roles; I loved the scene between Ralston and Crawford when she goes to confront Dolly. Sure, Sadie McKee may be a bit heavy on the melodrama, but it is entertaining and that’s exactly what I wanted from it.

Janie (1944)

Janie 1944 PosterHortonville is a small, quiet town and that’s the way Charles Conway (Edward Arnold) likes it.  His hands are full enough with running a newspaper and trying to handle his teenage daughter Janie (Joyce Reynolds).  Charles just can’t make sense of all the modern slang he hears Janie and her friends using and doesn’t approve of the things she likes to go out and do with her friends.

But Hortonville gets turned upside down when the Army opens a base nearby.  Charles is horrified and writes an editorial about how all those soldiers are bound to distract all the teenage girls in town.  When Janie meets Private First Class Dick Lawrence (Robert Hutton), son of her mother Lucille’s (Ann Harding) friend, it’s love at first sight.  She gladly throws her boyfriend Scooper (Richard Erdman) aside for the more sophisticated soldier, but if Scooper can’t have Janie, he doesn’t want anyone else.

When her parents go out for a night, Janie plans to have Dick come over for a nice, quiet evening at her house.  Her friends, however, throw a wrench into her plans when they show up with their soldier boyfriends because they have no other place to go.  Not only that, Janie’s little sister Elsbeth (Clare Foley) keeps getting in the way so Janie gets Dick to escort Elsbeth to her grandmother’s house by bus.  While he’s gone, Scooper tries to sabotage Janie and Dick’s date by calling up the army base and telling them to send all the soldiers to Janie’s house for a party.  Luckily for Janie, April (Hattie McDaniel), the family’s maid, loves the soldiers and is happy to make hot dogs for all the guests.  Janie’s friends call all the girls they know and before she knows it, it turns into the biggest party Hortonville has ever seen.

Janie is nothing amazing, but it’s a very fun little movie.  I really liked how energetic the movie is; the party scenes had me wanting to get a hot dog from April and to join the conga line.  Janie is very much a product of its time, but I found it interesting to see a movie that is so much about teen life during that era.  The whole story of a party getting out of hand while a teen’s parents are away has been done in movies many times over the years, but Janie has got to be the most patriotic version of that story ever made. It’s a very pleasant comedy that deserves a little more recognition than it gets.

The Barbarian (1933)

Jamil (Ramon Novarro) lives in Cairo and makes a living out of being a driver for wealthy female American visitors and then scamming them for whatever he can get from them.  As soon as Diana Standing (Myrna Loy) gets off the train in Cairo, Jamil knows he’s found his next mark.  He immediately tries to become her driver, but Diana’s fiance Gerald (Reginald Denny) puts a stop to him.  Undeterred, Jamil ups his game from “scam artist” to “frighteningly manipulative” by stealing her dog and returning it to her later.  When she offers him a reward, he tells her to repay the favor by letting him be her driver.

This time around, Diana agrees and Jamil’s frightening behavior only continues and gets worse. He constantly sets up situations that would allow him to come off as a hero to Diana and that get her alone with him.  Once he starts trying to romantically woo her, she tries to send him away and heads off on a caravan through the desert to visit Gerald, who has been away on business.

But even in the desert, there is no escape from Jamil and he forces his way into being her guide again. Once again, he tries to woo Diana, who isn’t having it and demands that they go back to Cairo immediately. So what does Jamil do? Send her chaperone on a different route so that it’s just him and Diana alone in the middle of the desert. Then he brings her to Achmed Pasha’s (Edward Arnold) oasis. Pasha is Gerald’s business partner who also has designs on Diana, so Jamil tells him that it was her idea to be there so that he would try to come onto her and he could come to her rescue again.

After Jamil and Diana flee from Pasha’s oasis, Pasha sends some people after them to bring her back, but Jamil not only kills them, but kills Diana’s horse in the process.  Jamil forces Diana to walk along side him while he rides on the horse and when they stop for water, he refuses to let her have a drink before him and the horse. With Diana’s spirit now completely broken, he drags her to his home village where he plans to marry her. She breaks away from the ceremony and returns to Gerald to marry him.  But just as she’s about to marry Gerald, guess who shows up yet again?  Yep, Jamil’s back to make another attempt for Diana.  Only this time Diana, for some reason, decides she’d rather be with Jamil and leaves Gerald standing at the altar.

My two GIF review of The Barbarian:

Oh, good Lord, this movie.  I …just…WHAT WAS THAT?!  Allegedly, this was supposed to be a romance, but it seemed more like a horror film to me.  It was outright disturbing. There is absolutely nothing romantic or charming about Jamil’s pursuit of Diana; it’s nothing but stalking and dangerously manipulative behavior.  I certainly wasn’t rooting for Jamil and Diana to wind up together. The only union I wanted to see between these people was of her fist meeting his face.  I could not get past Jamil’s astounding creepiness to possibly enjoy The Barbarian on any other levels.  I wish I could get those 83 minutes back so I could spend it doing something more productive like watching my cats sleep.

Johnny Apollo (1940)

Bob Cain (Tyrone Power) and his father Robert Cain, Sr. (Edward Arnold) had been very close for a long time, but when Robert is sent to jail for embezzlement, Bob is very deeply hurt.  Not so much by the jail sentence, but because he thought his father was above doing such things.  Not wanting to be an outcast at school, Bob drops out and starts looking for a job.  But being the son of a notorious embezzler makes it impossible for Bob to find work.  When Bob finds out that Mickey Dwyer (Lloyd Nolan), a far more dangerous criminal than his father, is granted parole, Bob has a change of heart and wants to get Robert out on parole.

Bob tries talking to Robert’s former attorney, but he isn’t willing to help get Robert out of jail.  He then goes to see Dwyer’s attorney Emmet T. Brennan (Charley Grapewin), who tells him he could get Robert paroled, but it would be expensive.  To get the money he needs, Bob does a little work for Dwyer.  Dwyer likes Bob and decides to have him join his gang.  Bob adopts the name Johnny Apollo and becomes Dwyer’s right hand man.  Meanwhile, Robert is taking his prison sentence very well and has become a model prisoner.  When Robert finds out Bob has been working with Dwyer, he denies even having a son.

Before too long, the law catches up with Bob and Dwyer and money isn’t going to get them out of it.  Although she’s Dwyer’s girlfriend, “Lucky” Dubarry (Dorothy Lamour) likes Bob more and convinces Brennan to come up with a plan to send Dwyer up the river while getting Bob off the hook. When Dwyer finds out what’s going on, he kills Brennan and both he and Bob wind up with prison sentences.  The two of them have an escape plan in mind before they even get to their cells, but Lucky doesn’t want to see Bob throw his life away by sticking with Dwyer.  She goes to see Robert and tells him about their escape plan, hoping Robert can talk some sense into his son.

If you’re looking for a good gangster movie but maybe want something different from The Public Enemy or Little CaesarJohnny Apollo might be just what you’re looking for.  Tyrone Power doesn’t have the menacing presence of James Cagney, but he was good at playing the young, disillusioned type.  Until now, I only knew Dorothy Lamour from the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby “Road” movies, but I think I like her more as a hardened gangsters moll than I did in the “Road” movies.  Edward Arnold and Lloyd Nolan bring a lot of life to the supporting cast.  Johnny Apollo doesn’t have the grit and action of the 1930s Warner Brothers gangster movies, it’s much more polished than those, but I do think it’s a rather underrated gangster flick.

The Hucksters (1947)

After coming home from World War II, Vic Norman (Clark Gable) wants to get back into the advertising business.  When he lands an interview with Mr. Kimberly (Adolphe Menjou) at Kimberly Advertising Agency, their meeting is interrupted by Evan Llewellyn Evans (Sidney Greenstreet), the very demanding head of Beautee Soap, their biggest client.  Evans wants them to get socialite Kay Dorrance (Deborah Kerr) for a new ad campaign and Vic volunteers to talk to her into it.  When he arrives at her apartment, the two of them hit it off and he has no problem getting her to agree.  On the day of the photo shoot, Kay is unhappy with the negligee she is asked to wear and Vic stands up for her and gets them to photograph her with her children wearing a respectable evening gown. Evans isn’t happy when he finds out Vic disregarded their idea, but when he hears a radio spot produced by Vic, he’s won over.

Vic continues to see Kay and he wants to take her to The Blue Penguin Inn, a place in Connecticut he liked to visit before going to fight in the war.  But when he gets there, he finds out the place has gone downhill while he was away.  When Kay arrives, she doesn’t see Vic, but she finds out they would be staying in adjoining rooms and gets the wrong idea and leaves.  Vic is heartbroken, but his weekend is soon interrupted when Evans wants to have a Sunday meeting.  He wants Beautee Soap to have a radio show starring comedian Buddy Hare (Keenan Wynn), so he sends Vic out on the next train to Hollywood to sign a deal with him and get started working on the show.

On the train, Vic runs into his former girlfriend Jean Ogilvie (Ava Gardner).  It’s a good thing they’re still friendly with each other, because Jean is able to help Vic talk to Buddy’s agent David Lash (Edward Arnold) and he gets Buddy to do the show for a good price.  While working on the show in Hollywood, Vic and Jean rekindle their relationship, but Jean can see that Vic still loves Kay.  By then, Kay has come around and Vic finds her waiting for him one night.  Vic proposes and he becomes focused on being the best provider he can be.

Vic is determined to be the best provider he can be for Kay and her children, so when it turns out there’s a problem with Buddy’s contract, he resorts to doing some pretty awful things to get Lash to fix it.  But Vic honestly likes Lash and immediately feels awful about it.  He hates what the advertising business has done to him and decides to tell Evans off and leave while he still has his dignity.

The Hucksters has a lot going for it, but it could have been a stronger movie overall.  Clark Gable was very good in it and Deborah Kerr wasn’t bad, either.  This was Kerr’s first American film, so it’s too bad she didn’t really have very much to do in it.  Even though I liked them both separately, I wasn’t really sold on Gable and Kerr together.  I thought he had much more chemistry with Ava Gardner.  The supporting cast was excellent, particularly Sidney Greenstreet (who was so perfect for that role), Adolphe Menjou, and Keenan Wynn.

The Hucksters is just under two hours long, but I felt like it could have been a little bit shorter.  It also seemed like it should have packed more of a punch, but it didn’t quite get there.  The Hucksters was based on a 1946 novel by Frederic Wakeman, which from what I’ve heard, was pretty scandalous.  Clark Gable himself called the book filthy, so I can imagine the movie was a pretty heavily sanitized adaptation.  Maybe the novel has more of the impact I felt like the movie should have had.