Roscoe Karns

Dancing Co-Ed (1939)

Dancing Co-Ed 1939Freddie and Toddie Tobin are one of the most popular dancing duos working and are about to start making a new movie together, but when news breaks that Toddie is pregnant, they need to find someone to take her place in their new film. The studio moguls decide that instead of getting another big-name star to take Toddie’s place, they should cast an unknown and hold a nationwide contest for college students to find her replacement. But to make sure they’re choosing someone who is up to the demands of working with a dancer like Freddie, they choose a real dancer named Patty Marlow (Lana Turner) and enroll her in college so she can “win” the contest.

Patty isn’t too happy about the prospect of going back to school and since she isn’t all that educated to begin with, the studio’s press agent gets his secretary Eve (Ann Rutherford) to take her entrance exams for her and pays for her to go back to school, too. While at school, she ends up falling in love with Pug Braddock (Richard Carlson), who works for the school paper. Much to her surprise, she also starts to really like journalism, too. Pug is skeptical about this big nationwide contest and wants to do an expose about it. Patty tries to continue with the contest, while trying to convince Pug she’s on the level at the same time. Of course, it isn’t long before he finds out the truth, but everything works out in the end.

Some movies don’t aspire to be anything more than lighthearted fun and that’s exactly what Dancing Co-Ed does. Fluffy, formulaic, nonsense plot? Absolutely! But is it fun to watch? Oh, yeah! I’ve spent all day not feeling very well and this was exactly the sort of movie I needed to lift my spirits a little bit. Not only does it have a very young Lana Turner, still pretty early in her career at this point and very beautiful and charming, it has a really great supporting cast with people like Ann Rutherford, Roscoe Karns, and Monty Woolley, who plays one of Patty’s professors. It’s simply a really cute movie. Nothing Earth shattering, but sometimes you just need something fun and cute and Dancing Co-Ed fits the bill perfectly. I loved it.

Cain and Mabel (1936)

Cain and Mabel Poster

When Aloysius K. Reilly (Roscoe Karns) accidentally causes waitress Mabel O’Dare (Marion Davies) to lose her job, Reilly is determined to find her an even better job.  Mabel insists that waiting tables is her only skill, but when Reilly finds out she can dance a little, he tries turning her into a Broadway star.  He finagles his way into meeting producer Jake Sherman and is nearly thrown out of the theater.  But when the star of the show suddenly quits, Jake hires Mabel anyway.

Mabel is hardly a great dancer, so the night before the show opens, she spends the night practicing her routines in a hotel room.  Unfortunately, she happens to be staying in the room above boxer Larry Cain (Clark Gable), who is trying to rest before a big match.  Her dancing keeps him awake and when he tries to tell her to keep it down, he’s met with a rude response.  But when both Larry and Mabel could use a little publicity, Reilly comes up with the idea of staging a romance between the two of them for the press.

Larry and Mabel loathe each other, but they go along with the charade.  However, Larry starts to warm to Mabel when he finds out that she comes from a working class background. He admits that he’d rather be a mechanic than a boxer and Mabel loves the idea of quitting the stage, marrying him, and helping him turn his dream into a reality.  They plan to elope, but when Reilly and the other people working for them find out, they want to put a stop to it.  They feed the story to the newspapers, making Mabel and Larry think the other one sold them out.  They go their separate ways, but when Mabel finds out the truth, she makes a mad dash to save their relationship.

Cain and Mabel is a cute, but not particularly noteworthy movie.  The plot is nonsense, but it’s likeable enough.  Clark Gable is fine in his part, but unfortunately, Marion Davies’ role just doesn’t suit her talents.  Marion was a gifted comedienne but aside from some snappy lines, she doesn’t get to put her comedic skills to good use in Cain in Mabel.  Instead she was put in a couple of musical numbers that really slow down the movie.  But this is hardly the worst movie I’ve seen from either Gable or Davies, so if you’re a big fan of either of them, it’s worth seeing at least once.