100 New Code Films – #93. “Maisie was a Lady” from 1941

100 New Code Films

Today is Friday, so I’m going to publish my first 100 New Code Films article of the week. I publish two of these articles each week, that is in all but four weeks of 2020. I have to write about only one new Code film in four weeks to equal 100 films in all. All these films are American Breen Era (1934-1954) movies which I have watched for the first time during the week or shortly before. I am enlarging my knowledge of the Breen Era by watching as many of these movies as possible.

Maisie Was a Lady (1941) - IMDb

Today’s topic is Maisie was a Lady from 1941. This is the first new film with Lew Ayres I have seen in a long time. Although still one of our favorite actors, we don’t watch as many of his movies as we used to. Nonetheless, there are still many wonderful 1930s and 40s films of his which we haven’t seen yet. This film was recently added to Amazon Prime Video. When our mother informed us of this, both Rebekah and I were eager to watch it. We watched it on Sunday evening.

MAISIE WAS A LADY 1941 ORIGINAL TITLE LOBBY CARD, ANN SOTHERN, LEW AYRES |  Lobby cards, Ann sothern, Lew ayres

Plot

Brooklyn showgirl Maisie loses her job as the headless woman at a carnival when a drunken socialite reveals the deception. Feeling sorry that he has inconvenienced her, the millionaire offers her his car to drive home. When a policeman recognizes the car, she gets arrested on suspicion of stealing it! Thankfully, at court the next day, the hungover owner vaguely remembers the incident and exonerates her. The judge says that he must employ Maisie for two months at the salary to which she was entitled at her previous carnival job. The now polite young man takes her back to his family’s palatial estate, where he employs her as a maid. Although she is initially too flashy for the conservative old butler, they quickly become good friends. Maisie also meets the refined and sensitive sister, who is engaged to a Casanova whom the new maid immediately recognizes as a phony. She is disgusted by the crowd of artificial, idle young people at the estate, but she agrees to stick it out as the sister’s personal maid. During her tenure, Maisie does a lot more than lay out clothes and make beds. She learns the personal troubles of the two grown children and their ever absent father and does her best to straighten them out, even as she fights a budding romance with the young alcoholic.

Maisie Was a Lady (1941) - Images - IMDb

Cast

This movie stars Ann Sothern, Lew Ayres, and Maureen O’Sullivan. Supporting actors include C. Aubrey Smith, Edward Ashley, Joan Perry, and Paul Cavanaugh.

Maisie Was a Lady & Others Lot (MGM, 1941). Window Cards (8) (14" X | Lot  #54271 | Heritage Auctions

Production Notes

This movie was directed by Edwin L. Marin. It was produced by J. Walter Ruben. The production company is MGM. The screenplay was written by Betty Reinhardt and Mary C. McCall Jr. It was from an original story by Betty Reinhardt and Myles Connolly.

b790 MAISIE three-sheet movie poster '39 Ann Sothern, Maisie Was A Lady! |  Ann sothern, Movie posters, Movie posters vintage

Code Compliance

This is a good Code film. It is wholesome and decent as well as thoroughly entertaining and hilarious. Maisie Ravier (Ann Sothern) is brassy but always a good, moral, decent young lady. She clearly hasn’t had much education, but she knows about decency and doing the right thing. Some very sound morals and wisdom are presented. There is nothing improper in this movie.

Maisie Was a Lady (1941) - Overview - TCM.com

Recommendation

I highly recommend this movie! This is the fourth of ten Maisie films MGM made with Ann Sothern as the titular character. This is the first film in the series which I have seen, but I look forward to seeing others after this. It seems like there isn’t too much consistency with supporting characters from one film to the next, the main constant being Maisie herself. Thus, one can easily start in the middle of the series, as we did, since the films are quite episodic. Ann Sothern’s interaction with Lew Ayres is great. Lew Ayres gives a very impressive performance as an alcoholic, as always. This role of a drunken, misunderstood millionaire’s son is like an expansion of his supporting role as Ned Seton in Holiday (1938), even down to the sensitive sister (Maureen O’Sullivan) and unfeeling father (Paul Cavanaugh). Maureen O’Sullivan is lovely and so dainty as Abby Rawlston. C. Aubrey Smith plays against type as butler Walpole, since he was usually cast as gruff, wealthy fathers. Edward Ashley is perfect as Link Phillips, the roguish fiancé with a roving eye. Joan Perry plays Diana, the other woman, with impressive complexity for such a small role. Although technically a comedy, this movie contains some surprisingly dramatic themes and elements, which provide interesting twists. Fans of MGM series, such as the Andy Hardy and Dr. Kildare films, will enjoy this entry in a different but very enjoyable series.

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