Thursday, February 14, 2002

MAISIE (1939)

This is the first of the long series of movies about the adventures of a lively young chorus girl with a hard exterior but a good heart. In this one, big city Maisie (Ann Sothern), stranded out west, finagles her way into a job at a ranch, working for Robert Young, who himself manages the farm for Ian Hunter. She keeps getting under Young's skin and just as he is determined to get rid of her, Hunter and his wife (Ruth Hussey) show up and Maisie ingratiates herself with them, becoming Hussey's personal maid. Up to now, the movie has been a light romantic tale--you know that Young and Sothern will eventually hit it off. But suddenly, a tale of adultery unfolds with Hussey being a hussy and slipping off to carry on an affair with Anthony Allan. Things take a melodramatic turn involving suicide and mistaken murder charges, but Maise rights things in the end. Given the code rules against depictions of suicide, I was surprised they were as explicit as they were here--we don't see the actual act, but we see the dead body moments later, and it's not explained away as accidental. I liked Young better here than in most of the other B-films I've seen him in; he seemed less callow and more serious, although his acting was actually more relaxed. Hussey was good in a fairly thankless "bad girl" role. It was OK, but it didn't make me want to search out any of the others in the series.

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