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

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Mischa Auer, Dennis O'Keefe and baby
UP IN MABEL'S ROOM (1944). Director: Allan Dwan.

Gary (Dennis O'Keefe) is married to the easily excitable and almost neurotically jealous Geraldine (Marjorie Reynolds). Years ago Gary had a drunken fling in Mexico City with Mabel (Gail Patrick), and gave her some intimate lingerie with a love message embroidered on it with his name. Mabel, who is engaged to Gary's prospective business partner, Arthur (Lee Bowman), thinks Gary should be honest about it and they can all laugh about it and forget it -- very sensible -- but not-so-sensible, nervous Gary wants to get the notorious slip out of Mabel's hands and destroy it. To that end he hires Boris (Mischa Auer) to help him get it when the two couples and others converge at a house party. Somehow, after much hiding under beds and marital misunderstandings, the rumor gets around that Gary and Mabel's big secret isn't a mere slip, but a "slip" of a baby! Up in Mabel's Room is based on a creaky old farce that might have been hilarious in its day, but this attempt to turn it into a wartime screwball comedy just doesn't come off. There are some talented players in this -- O'Keefe certainly tries hard, Patrick is quite likable as the sophisticated Mabel, and Mischa Auer gets the film's only laughs (and there are far too few of them) -- but Marjorie Reynolds [Bring On the Girls] and most of the others show no gift for farce. If the picture were really funny you might overlook that most of the characters are quite stupid. John Hubbard [The Mummy's Tomb] and Binnie Barnes play another couple, and Charlotte Greenwood is an older woman who thinks Boris is a burglar and tries to shoot him. Allan Dwan also directed the terrible Brewster's Millions with O'Keefe.

Verdict: Pick any Mexican Spitfire movie and it will be a lot funnier -- this is leaden. *1/2

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