Today is Tuesday, but I am again going to publish a 100 New Code Films article earlier than usual. The plan with this series was for me to match and review two American Breen Era (1934-1954) films for the first time during all but four weeks this year. In the extra four weeks, I was supposed to watch only one new Code film, equaling 100 movies in all during 2020. Somehow, my calculations didn’t work out quite right, so I ended up at #98 three weeks before the new year! Thus, I only have to review one new Code film in these remaining weeks, which very handily gives me more time to enjoy the holidays!
Today’s topic is Watch the Birdie from 1950. Last Sunday, we spent a few hours browsing through films available on Amazon Prime. We added many new movies to the watchlist after watching their trailers. Of all the trailers we watched during that afternoon, we decided that the most entertaining was that of this Red Skelton comedy. Thus, we decided to watch it with dinner that evening.
A three-generational photography store is facing legal trouble unless they pay a large sum of within a few days. The son, desperate to save his father and grandfather’s business, persuades a newsreel photographer to leave his expensive camera at the store while on vacation. The clumsy young man then tries to shoot valuable newsreel footage in hopes of earning some money. However, he destroys the camera when both he and the machinery end up in the bay. A beautiful heiress on a nearby yacht dives in to save his life, but he is dismayed because he will be unable to replace the camera. The kind young woman sends employees into the store to buy enough merchandise to enable him to replace the camera. Although unaware of her generous gesture, he is thrilled to see her again. She hires him to film the unveiling of the housing development which she is building in honor of her father’s memory. While there, he accidentally records the conspiratorial plotting of her business manager and an inspector. He and the lovely owner must work together to uncover and foil the evil plot, despite attempts on their lives. Meanwhile, his wily grandfather gives him some advice on how to be aggressive enough to win the young lady’s heart.
This movie stars Red Skelton, Arlene Dahl, and Ann Miller. Supporting actors include Leon Ames, Pamela Britton, Richard Rober, Jack Boyle, and Ray Cooke.
This movie was directed by Jack Donohue. It was produced by Harry Ruskin. The production company was MGM. The screenplay was written by Ivan Tors, Devery Freeman, and Harry Ruskin. It was based on a story by Marshall Neilan Jr.
This is a good Code film. It is totally wholesome and decent in every way. In a time when most comedies rely heavily on vulgarity, crudeness, or risqueity, it is so refreshing to see such clean humor. Red Skelton uses a lot of physical comedy, like tripping over things, falling off buildings, and making messes in different ways. It is never violent. It’s just simple and hilarious!
I highly recommend this movie. If you want a film which will give you a good laugh, look no further! In just over an hour, Red Skelton’s antics can thoroughly lift your mood. This movie is especially funny because it delivers Red Skelton “three ways!” He plays not only the leading man, Rusty, but also his own father and grandfather. His portrayals of the older men are hilarious as well as very convincing! The impressive split screen effects also add to the convincing effect. Arlene Dahl, a common co-star of Red, plays his leading lady, beautiful heiress Lucia Corlane. She is sweet, funny, and brave in this movie, and she contributes a lot to the extensive chase sequence at the end. The other woman in the story is Ann Miller, who plays Miss Lucky Vista, the winner of the beauty contest at Miss Corlane’s new housing development. Although the posts indicate that she is an equal rival with Arlene Dahl for Red’s affections, this is inaccurate. She is actually a supporting character, included primarily for comedic purposes. She doesn’t sing or dance in this role, but she is hilariously flirtatious and obnoxious. The scene when she tries to seduce Rusty in order to get a role of film is hilarious. She won’t stop throwing herself at him, although he is obviously not interested in her. Leon Ames plays an unusually villainous role. I am used to seeing him as kindly fathers, as in Meet Me in St. Louis and On Moonlight Bay, so this was a surprising part for me. He plays it very well, though. An interesting aspect of this film is the fact that it includes clips from two earlier MGM films, Johnny Eager from 1942 and Boomtown from 1940. Grandpop plays these on a projector when trying to teach his grandson how to be a strong, romantic man. He first tries to teach him through Robert Taylor’s love scene with Lana Turner in the 1942 film, but he eventually must resort to Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in the 1940 film, which I have seen. This tribute to earlier films adds a really interesting touch. This is just a hilarious movie. I know you will enjoy it!
Please join our three upcoming holiday blogathons!
Follow us to bring back the Code and save the arts in America!