Thursday, August 19, 2010
MY LITTLE CHICKADEE
MY LITTLE CHICKADEE (1940). Director: Edward F. Cline.
"I feel as though a midget with muddy feet has been walking over my tongue all night." -- Cuthbert J. Twillie.
When Flower Belle Lee (Mae West) is run out of town because of her midnight dalliances with a mysterious masked bandit, she runs into Cuthbert J. Twillie (W. C. Fields) on a train and "marries" him when she sees his valise full of cash. All this leads into various highly amusing complications as Flower Belle is torn between two other men [one good/Dick Foran; one bad/Joseph Calleia], and Cuthbert winds up as the sheriff in a town where sheriffs need to be frequently replaced due to violent death. Fields is as marvelous as ever; the ever-liberated West doesn't so much as act in the movie as she inhabits it, but she's a lot of fun; Calleia and Margaret Hamilton [ as a disapproving but kind of lovable old maid] give give their usual flavorful performances; and the under-rated Dick Foran is pleasant and solid. Donald Meek is also great as a gambler who pretends to be a pastor so the two stars can get married on the train. West sings "Willie of the Valley" with great aplomb if without a voice. Lots of great dialogue in this.
Verdict: An unbeatable combo. ***1/2.