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My Little Chickadee

My Little Chickadee(1940)

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  • TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING?

    • Vincent Bernardo
    • 2/22/16

    On paper, the idea of teaming two great comedians like W.C. Fields and Mae West should make for a terrific movie. In fact, putting two such monumental egos in the same picture turned out to be a huge problem. For one thing, West always claimed that she wrote the entire screenplay, that Fields had nothing to do with it, a charge he vehemently denied. Fields, on the other hand, felt that West was trying to limit his scenes, and would have been very happy if he wasn't in the picture at all. Like Claire Trevor in "Stagecoach," Flower Belle Lee (West) is being driven out of town due to causing too much excitement among the male population. One of the passengers, Mrs. Gideon (Margaret Hamilton) suggests that Flower Belle won't be welcome anywhere until she becomes "respectable." After a brief conversation with Cuthbert J. Twillie (Fields) they decide to get "married." Also in "Stagecoach," Donald Meek was constantly mistaken for a clergyman. Here he pretends ot be one, and conducts the bogus ceremony. In town, boss Jeff Badger (Joseph Calleia) names Twillie the new sheriff, knowing he's not about to interfere in his criminal operations. Flower Belle's funniest scene is when she takes over a class of boys for the exhausted teacher, but she's no schoolmarm; she gets nightly visits from a Latin lover known as The Masked Bandit, who makes his living robbing stagecoaches. One night Fields, in his funniest scene, dresses up like the Bandit and enters Flora Belle's room, speaking in a ridiculous Spanish accent as he tries to make love to her. The townspeople think he is the Bandit, and are about to string him up, when the hangman asks him if he has a last request. "I'd like to see Paris before I die." Look of derision. "Philadelphia will do!" Back in 1925, Fields stated in an article in Vanity Fair that he would like his epitaph to read: "On the whole I'd rather be in Philadelphia." It's not there. Perhaps it should be.

  • Whoa there pardner!

    • Oliver Cutshaw
    • 4/23/09

    This movie has its moments of fun. But on the whole it is disappointing mishmash of talents. In real life Fields and West didn't get along, and it shows on the screen. The few scenes they have together are stiff and neither seems to response to the other. Not since Frankenstein meets Wolfman has there been such a pairing of classic cinema giants that is so darn drab. Now in the scenes where they aren't together the two comedic greats each do their best but all in all it seems like two movies poorly blended into one.

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