Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Forgotten Films: My Little Chickadee

Mae West and W. C. Fields are fading from the American consciousness, I think. For most people under 50, or maybe under 60, these two stars are, I suspect either unknown or forgotten. If I'm right, that's too bad.

Both the actors were past their prime when My Little Chickadee was made, but to me it's still a very funny movie. West plays Flower Belle, a woman who's run out of town and can't return until she's respectable, i. e., married. She meets Cuthbert J. Twillie (Fields) on the train, and he proves more than willing to marry her to help her attain her goal. For West it's to be a marriage in name only, so a lot of the movie's humor comes from Fields' attempts to consummate the relationship. No one but Fields would woo a woman by admiring her hand and saying, "What symmetrical digits."

West slinks and flirts, Fields flounders, and the double entendres come thick and fast. There's even a Masked Bandit! I saw this movie more than 50 years ago, and I laughed for weeks about it. I still get a goofy grin when I think about certain scenes and lines of dialogue. You can watch the trailer in the post above, and if you think that's funny, then you'd like the movie. If not, time to rent The Hangover again.

11 comments:

David Cranmer said...

Big, big chuckles in this film.

Dale said...

I am under 60 (barely) and I have enjoyed WC and many others from his era since I was a kid. I am now working on my grandkids to give them appreciation of the classics instead of the cookie cutter stuff that keeps coming out nowadays.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have never laughed harder than I did in Fields' IT'S A GIFT. This one is fine too. It is a shame if these films are lost to everyone under 50 except for David.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree that both were past their prime and I didn't find it as good as earlier Fields, starting with the classic "Fatal Glass of Beer" short.

Like Patti, I'd put IT'S A GIFT at the top ("Open the door for Mr. Muckle, the blind man!") and I also like MAN ON THE FLYING TRAPEZE ("He was drunk and lying in the gutter!), YOU CAN'T CHEAT AN HONEST MAN and the late but insane NEVER GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK.

But IT'S A GIFT is the best. I can quote much of it verbatim, and often do.

Jeff

Cullen Gallagher said...

W.C. Fields and Mae West are two of my favs! This is a very wonderful movie. My brother and I (both in our 20s) laughed our asses off to this over xmas. I originally saw it in high school. Even better the second time around.

Bill Crider said...

Glad to hear this, Cullen. But then you're a movie kind of a guy.

K. A. Laity said...

La Fong!

There's actually a continual interest in both Fields and West. I know a band who recently recorded a song, "Looking for Carl LeFong." And a friend told me the most wonderful story of introducing her curvy daughter to West and having her blossom in physical and psychological confidence. They even had a big Mae West party where everyone came as the grand dame herself.

True genius will never die.

Bill Crider said...

Let's hope not!

Cap'n Bob said...

Don't forget THE BANK DICK, one of my favorites. As for MLC, the supporting cast alone makes it worthwhile.

Bud said...

@ Cap'n Bob: Absolutely! Hamilton, Meeks, Calleia, Foran, Donnelly as well as Fields & West. What's not to love!

Todd Mason said...

I first (and only) saw CHICKADEE (misspelled in the headline, btw) as a mere sprat, a pesky postpartumate, and shall have to re-examine the evidence. I liked it then. I also haven't quite surmounted the half-cent'ry.