Border G-Man


This is my third George O'Brien Western and it follows the same formula as the other two: O'Brien is an undercover cowboy lawman.  In this case, the villains are smuggling arms to Mexico, so George is a federal agent.  Singing cowboy Ray Whitley is also in this one (as in the other two), but does not play O'Brien's confederate like in the others.  This is the movie for which Ray Whitley wrote "Back in the Saddle Again", and he performs it here before Gene Autry ever heard it.

"Back in the Saddle Again"

Boy Meets Girl


This is a madcap comedy starring Pat O'Brien and Jimmy Cagney.  They play the screenwriting team of Benson and Law, who believe there is only one story needed for the movies: Boy Meets Girl, Boy Loses Girl, Boy Gets Girl.  They are on the hook to write a boffo script for a fading cowboy star when they chance upon a sweet girl from the studio commissary who is in a family way.  They extemporize a script where the cowboy finds a baby, and when the baby (named Happy) is born he becomes a publicity sensation.  Benson and Law finagle power-of-attorney to manage Happy and the cowboy is put out at playing second fiddle.  There are many frenetic swings of fortune.  This movie is a boat load of fun.  Kind of a Front Page lite.

James Cagney seemed intent to prove that he could machine-gun his dialogue as fast as Pat O'Brien so I had to turn on closed-captioning several times.  The naive mother was played by Marie Wilson whom I just saw as Carole Lombard's maid in Fools for Scandal.  Ralph Bellamy is the movie producer trying to ride herd on his actors and screenwriters.  He is also an intellectual snob and a health nut.  He makes a big point of ordering "raw" milk and in one scene complains that Cagney has broken his Vita-Glass window.  This was a brand name for glass that was UV permeable and supposedly promoted better health, but apparently had been largely debunked by 1938.  At one point an actor pretending to be Happy's long lost father claims that he "did not go down on the Morro Castle".  This was a cruise ship that caught fire in 1934 killing 137 people.  The timing does not actually work out.  I think much of the script was intended as jokes that are not today self-evident.

Familiar faces: Penny Singleton (Blondie) has a quick scene as a manicurist, and Ronald Reagan plays a radio announcer for a movie opening.

Boy Meets Girl trailer on TCM

Fools for Scandal


Fools for Scandal with Carole Lombard and Fernand Gravet.  This is a screwball comedy with Lombard playing an incognito American actress visiting Paris and London.  Gravet plays a destitute Parisian chef who courts her.  When Gravet ends up spending the night after a masquerade party in Lombard's London home (ostensibly to serve as her personal cook) all of London society is alight with the scandal.

This was Lombard's only 1938 movie and she died in a plane crash in early 1942, so this was close to the end of her career.  I enjoyed her a lot.  Fernand Gravet played Johann Strauss II in The Great Waltz.  The songs in this movie are by Rodgers and Hart, but this isn't really a musical.  There is one "spoken word" duet called "Food for Scandal" which must have been a contender for the title of this film.

Allen Jenkins and Fernand Gravet

Familiar faces: Allen Jenkins as Gravet's sidekick; Ralph Bellamy as Lombard's wannabe fiancĂ©.

Fools for Scandal Trailer on TCM

Love Is a Headache


Carlotta Lee (Gladys George) is a stage actress on a string of failed plays.  Peter Lawrence (Franchot Tone) is a showbiz columnist who thinks he could steer Carlotta's career properly if only she would follow his advice.  Since she won't, he uses his column to torpedo her career choices so as to persuade her. Amidst this action, Peter learns that an old pal of his has died leaving two kids (played by Mickey Rooney and Virginia Weidler) orphan.  He uses a radio broadcast to solicit an adoptive family for them, and Carlotta's publicity man decides that she should adopt them for the positive press.  Peter is offended by this mercenary move and tries to expose Carlotta, who has grudgingly grown endeared to the kids.

Familiar face: Ralph Morgan (Frank Morgan's brother) as a wealthy suitor of Carlotta's

"Love Is a Headache" trailer from TCM



Stablemates with Mickey Rooney and Wallace Beery.  This is a horse racing movie.  Mickey Rooney is the stable boy who loves his horse more than anything.  Beery is an alcoholic on-the-lamb veterinarian.  Together they turn Mickey's sometimes lame horse into a champion, while forming a father/son bond.

Familiar face: Margaret Hamilton as an on-the-make farm-owning widow.

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