Little Miss Thoroughbred

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Gambler 'Nails' Morgan (John Litel) grudgingly becomes the not-so-legal guardian of orphan Janet (Janet Chapman) who he believes brings him good luck.

I read some contemporary newspaper accounts of this movie and its child star, and it is seems that the studio was pushing hard for Janet Chapman to be the next Shirley Temple. Janet was cute and small for her age (and she was only five), and Shirley was getting long in the tooth at the ripe age of ten. One of Shirley's big movies when she was younger was "Little Miss Marker", also set around horse racing.

Blondie!

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Penny Singleton has 59 acting credits in IMDB and 28 of them are for playing Blondie Bumstead*. This is the first of those movies. Here we are introduced to Singleton's Blondie, Arthur Lake's Dagwood, Jonathan Hale's Mr. Dithers, and Larry Simms's Baby Dumpling.

Okay, plot: Blondie and Dagwood have just finished paying off their furniture, so Blondie (without telling Dagwood) replaces it all with new furniture to the tune of $22.50/month. Meanwhile Dagwood is in trouble for having signed for a loan for Dithers' former secretary who has since absconded, making Dagwood responsible for the loan. The only way for Dagwood to get the money is to make a business sale to a notoriously hard-to-sell potential client, played by Gene Lockhart. Dagwood accidentally befriends the client over their mutual interest in fixing a hotel vacuum cleaner. Willie Best plays the porter who is responsible for the vacuum. Also, Blondie suspects Dagwood of cheating on her.

Larry Simms later plays George Bailey's oldest son in IAWL. Not the one who says "'scuse me".

*Another 12 are from 1938, not including this one. She was also the voice of Jane Jetson.

Mr. Chump

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Bill Small is an less-than-ambitious trumpet player boarding in the house owned by his sweetheart Betty (Penny Singleton), her sister Jane (Lola Lane), and Jane's husband Ed. Bill mostly just wants to play that crazy swing music on his trumpet but he also has a hobby of playing the stock market (on paper). Over the years he has made millions with his pretend investments. Ed and Jim (his rival for Betty's affections) try to implement Bill's investment scheme with money they embezzle from the bank where they both work, with disastrous results. I was a little disconcerted at the cavalier way the embezzling was portrayed, but SPOILER ALERT they all end up in jail. I'm not sure who the chump is. Lola Lane did not shine in this role.

Here's the trailer if you want to watch it.

Love, Honor and Behave

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This is a story about the too-amicable dissolution of a marriage and the next generation nearly repeating the same mistakes. Dan Painter (played by Thomas Mitchell, Uncle Billy from IAWL) wants his wife to be more passionate and fun-loving. His wife, Sally, believes in quiet dignity and that losing with honor is the highest ideal. She has created a fetish of this virtue, as her husband once says, to the point that she would rather lose with honor than win with honor. This frustrates Dan no end. She is also raising their son, Ted, with this same moral code. Dan has a fling with the neighbor lady and the couple amicably decide to divorce. The neighbor lady also divorces her husband hoping to marry Dan. The neighbors have a daughter, Barbara, who is little Ted's playmate.

When Ted (now played by Wayne Morris) is a senior at Yale he reconnects with Barbara (now played by Priscilla Lane) who sets her cap and tries to navigate Ted towards a different life course. They elope and he abandons his plans for medical school, but his mother's influence is too strong and he continues to be an honorable failure at everything. This time is seems like Barbara is bound to have a fling but Ted finally breaks out of his conditioning and he and his wife have a huge brawl, ending with black eyes for each of them and a vicious spanking for Barbara which she loves.

All's well that ends well.

Young Ted is played by Dickie Moore of Our Gang fame. I thought I saw a quick appearance by Hattie McDaniel as a housemaid, but it turned out to be her sister, Etta McDaniel.

What else...  The movie starts in 1922 and has party-goers casually "making gin" from alcohol and juniper. The movie opens to the tune "Bei Mir Bist Du Schein" and Priscilla Lane sings it during the movie as well. The Andrews Sisters had their big hit with this song in 1937.

To me this movie had a little pre-code naughtiness in it. It must have just squeeked by.

Mr. Doodle Kicks Off

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This movie is a vehicle for Joe Penner, who was apparently one of the most famous radio comedians of the mid-30s. There are not many recordings of his broadcasts, though, and he died very young, so he is not so famous today.

Penner plays Jimmie 'Doodle' Bugs, the son of a wealthy businessman. He wants to pursue a career as a band leader, but his father wants him to be a college athlete. Manipulations ensue.

Billy Gilbert has a real part in this movie, even bigger than in Broadway Melody of 1938.

Daredevil Drivers

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A reckless driver (Dick Purcell) in the already extremely dangerous sport of auto racing is sanctioned and banned from racing. He gets involved in the competition between two commercial bus companies: one with dangerously unsafe maintenance of their fleet (owned by a woman) and one with dangerously bad scruples.

The second female lead is played by Gloria Blondell, Joan's sister.

Four Men and a Prayer

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Directed by John Ford and David Niven and Loretta Young, this movie is a mess.

Plot: A high ranking British officer in India is improperly blamed for allegedly issuing an order that resulting in ninety people being killed. He receives a dishonorable discharge and telegrams his four sons to meet him at home to help prove his innocence. His sons have all done well - one is at Oxford, one is a barrister, one is an aviator/playboy and one works in the British embassy in the United States. The sons are named Wyatt, Geoffrey, Chris, and Rodney, but are nicknamed Beano, Boson, Nosey, and Snicklefritz. After they all gather at the family homestead (but before they can get down to the business of proving their father's innocence) their father is murdered in such a way that it appears to have been a suicide. This further damages his reputation.

The boys and Loretta Young set off to India, Argentina, and Egypt to restore their father's honor. David Niven is periodically funny but the rest is just a mangle.

There is an appearance by Reginald Denny whom I liked so much as Bulldog Drummond's valet in those movies.

 
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