Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941)

The Bride Came C.O.D. is only one in a large group of movies that feature that commonality of the 1930's: the madcap heiress. This time it's Bette Davis as the heiress, thinking she's on her way to wed Jack Carson, in the role of a popular playboy/bandleader. The bride is separated from her potential bridegroom by Jimmy Cagney, a pilot trying not to lose his airplane to creditors. The pilot makes a deal with the heiress' father to hijack the bride and prevent the wedding, with the promise of cash on delivery coming from the oil man father.

It's all pretty cut and dried until they crash in the desert and get to know each other. It being a comedy from the 1940's, you can guess what happens next.

This movie isn't the best example of Bette Davis' amazing acting ability, but Jimmy Cagney carries the film so adeptly you won't mind. There's also the usual supporting cast of wonderful character actors (probably the best thing that ever came out of the studio system: character actors that show up in all your favorite movies). Eugene Pallette, George Tobias, Harry Davenport, and William Frawley all provide plenty to like about this movie. Throw in some nifty old planes and cars, a musical score by Max Steiner, and you'll have an hour and a half of classic comedic fulfillment.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Andy Hardy's early days

I grew up watching re-runs of old Andy Hardy movies, and when I got older, I revisited them on TCM. About 10 years or so ago, I decided that if I patterned my life after Mrs. Hardy, then there would always be a delicious meal ready for my family, all the cleaning, washing, ironing and mending would always be caught up and if there were unexpected visitors for dinner, a homemade cake would magically appear for dessert. Love that woman!

Recently I saw the very first of the Andy Hardy movies (A Family Affair -- 1937) and it was a good bit different from those that followed. To begin with, it was not really a vehicle for Andy at all. Lionel Barrymore was the undisputed star of this film, although it was a little tough for me to see him as Judge Hardy, a role that Lewis Stone seemed to play with complete authenticity. Fay Holden's Mrs. Hardy was first incarnated by Spring Byington for "A Family Affair." Both actresses seemed equally able to handle the role.

This movie was far removed from the light-hearted comedy that the Andy Hardy movies would eventually become. It was certainly no Hollywood heavy hitter, but it was a serious film in many ways. I like to see the progression of things, the way things change over the years, so seeing this movie was fascinating. You can almost hear the producers and studio heads watching it, saying, "That little Rooney boy is dynamite! Let's make a sequel and feature him more prominently!"

If you have ever seen an Andy Hardy film, then be on the lookout for "A Family Affair." I think it will surprise you.