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


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