Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


MILLION DOLLAR BABY (1941). Director: Curtis Bernhardt.

When wealthy Cornelia Wheelwright (May Robson) discovers that her late father cheated his partner out of $700,000 she decides to do right by the man's only living heir, a salesgirl named Pam (Priscilla Lane). She moves into the boarding house where the young lady lives to check her out, meets her boyfriend Pete (Ronald Reagan) and the other residents, and winds up giving Pam a check for one million dollars -- and that's when the trouble starts. The movie is charming and entertaining for the most part, bolstered by some fine old character actors, and even Reagan and Lane are quite good (this is more Lane's meat than, say, Saboteur), but .... STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE FILM.

The trouble with the movie is the characterization of Pam's boyfriend, Pete, who is a complete jackass. He can't deal with the windfall -- or rather the fact that his gal has more money than he does (although he claims is has to do with earning something and all that) -- so what does he do? He walks out on her! Packs up, moves out, leaves town with a band, and never gets in touch with her again. So what does she do? She conspires to win him back. Why, for Pete's sake [pun intended]?! Even more ridiculous she gives away all of the money. Yes, she doesn't even set aside any for her possible children's education or for emergencies. And the jackass approves. Sheesh

Lee Patrick and Helen Westley are fun as the ever-battling Miss La Rue and the landlady Mrs. Galloway, and George Barbier scores as Miss Wheelwright's bemused lawyer. Flora Robson, of course, is the best thing in the movie.

Verdict: Cute and entertaining, but oh boy -- what a dumb ending! **1/2.

1 comment:

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