- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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Highlighting Henry Fonda
- Will Fox
Native Nebraskan Henry Fonda's first film was 1935's "The Farmer Takes a Wife," re-creating his Broadway role. Ditto "The Male Animal" began on Broadway in 1940 with the opposite theme: How intelligent man loses wife. (Boy-loses-girl-then-restores-relationship became one of the five most popular subjects for Hollywood in its Golden Era.) In 1941 bewildered Prof. Fonda is conned by beguiling Barbara Stanwyck in "The Lady Eve," an enchanting comedy earning enthusiastic audiences over decades. So casting comedic, proven-winner Fonda in 1942's film, Male Animal seems natural. His maturing star-status surprises us in his 1943 screen success in one of the great Western Civilization themes in "The Oxbow Incident:" How an honest, honorable everyman learns to understand and cope with mob-mentality madness. It kills tragically. (It's shockingly relevant now.) Dealing with the mob mentality is previewed in Male Animal, when seriously frustrated academics, Prof. Fonda, the Dean and campus news editor are pushed into participating in the Homecoming Football Pep Rally for obsessed stadium-building promoters sports trumps all academic priorities. Ironically in one of the best satires on the issue, every sports promoter redundantly repeats only one rah-rah word, "Fight!" So Fonda learns to fight for wife, free speech vs. anti-academics, WW2 Nazi-mob-mentality slogans. Fonda fought for freedoms in WW2, too. In 1946 he returned to films, John Ford's "My Darling Clementine," fighting evil. In Fonda's first Ford film, 1939's "Young Mr. Lincoln," HF fights lynch mob.
Terrific Play but so-so film
- mitch mcguire
I acted the male lead in a production and loved the script and the part. The director was son in law to the original director of the B'way version and we did a fine production as mentioned in the NY Times. The play is better than the film which, for some bad reason, was sped up by the director to a furious pace that took all the life out if it. The play holds up beautifully. See it in a theatre and see if yo u agree.
A bit disjointed plot...
Viewing this film is a pleasant enough way to spend an afternoon but it really isn't special...but it could have been! The film is based on a play by James Thurber and I can see how it would work in a theater setting; however, it doesn't fare that well in a film. Thurber, as is evidenced by his "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" written eight years after this play, appeared obsessed with ditzy college professors and Henry Fonda is cast here as one. It doesn't work. The best part of his performance is his passionate speech defending the freedom of speech. That's Fonda at his best. Playing the clown is not!
great little movie. love the drunk scene. McDaniel is marvelous.
The male animal
**** I love this film. The cast was wonderful.
Loved this one. Carson and McDaniel always deliver.
The Male Animal (1942)
- James Higgins
This is a highly regarded classic, and I am not sure why I am not enthralled with it. It's okay, but I just don't see anything special with it. There is no chemistry between Henry Fonda and Olivia de Havilland. Fonda is great, but de Havilland gets very irritating, as does Jack Carson. Eugene Pallette and Hattie McDaniel provide excellent support. Otherwise, it's pretty routine.
Brilliant Script; Brilliant Cast...
and brilliantly acted! All pieces fit together perfectly. Best of it's genre and NOT to be missed!