Andy Hardy Goes To Hell, Or: Speaking of Full Circles…

A horse is a horse, of course, of course…

The fun 1937 musical comedy Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry popped up today on TCM and while I usually don’t go out of my way to watch many Mickey Rooney films, this one was quite interesting because it nicely bookends with a certain later TV show. Some of you know where this is going, so just smile and nod, please.

Anyway, I got to laughing at one point for a few key reasons. One being the scene below where after teaching a kid the ropes of riding a race horse, Mickey’s character Timmie Donovan later takes the kid back to his room and attempts to give him a vigorous rubdown, which is unintentionally and hilariously suggestive, as is the previous horse scene.

While this is happening, a young Judy Garland pops up to interrupt things by playing the guitar and singing a catchy song about her new shoes. Don’t believe me? See for yourself, ahem (and just what the heck is going on here?):

“I got my horse right here, his name is Paul Revere…”

Th other funny thing was I immediately thought of The Twilight Zone episode” Last Night of A Jockey”, which was a total solo showcase for Rooney written by Rod Serling. He plays an angry disgraced jockey named Michael Grady who’s accused of horse doping and banned from racing. While in his shabby room, he talks to himself until his alter ego appears and grants him one wish which amusingly enough, goes exactly as planned after he’s reinstated and can start racing again:

“You’re gonna need a bigger boat…”

Anyway, you can pick up the film though Warner Archive here and it’s worth a watch, as it’s the first of eight films Rooney made with Garland, so that’s also important in cinematic as well as historical terms. See, folks- movies like this can also be quite educational when they need to.

-GW

Random Film of the Week Quickie: DEAD END

dead end 02

“I hear the marinara sauce is good in this joint…”

Dead End 1937 MPI love Dead End for a few reasons. It’s a great film based off a stage play that yep, both looks and feels stagey, but that works highly in its favor. It’s a classic Old New York City film just for the location it presents and the feeling that, staging aside, that place actually existed. It also marked the debut of The Dead End Kids who’d later morph into The Little Tough Guys, then The East Side Kids and then into The Bowery Boys with a total of close to 50 audience-pleasing fluff comedies made between 1937 and 1958. To some non-fans of the Boys, this only proves the law of diminishing returns should have been more strictly obeyed and enforced (ha and ha). But, I digress.

It also has Humphrey Bogart in an early knockout role as a slickly dressed but menacing thug who returns to his old stomping grounds with a brand new facelift for mixed results. Finally, it’s a nicely directed “message” film by the great William Wyler that works on many levels, some of which soak in only after a second or third viewing. Go grab your popcorn, pal. I’ll wait. Oh, you’re making it on the stove the old-fashioned way? Good. I’ll go get a bowl and meet you back here in five.

dead end 04

Bogie lets McCrea know he can’t wear a hat AND a bucket at the same time.

Continue reading

Random Film of the Week: History Is Made At Night

(Thanks, jolaysius!)

History Is Made At Night_MPUp until I saw all of Frank Borzage’s wonderful History Is Made At Night, the only part I’d seen was a hilarious clip that had me laughing a wee bit too hard because I’d taken it way out of context (it’s not hard to do, people). That “Cleo” gag is used again in the film, but by that time you’re probably going to be caught up in the blend of comedy and melodrama on display that adds a slight dip into disaster movie territory and tosses in a suicide for good measure. Borzage’s film isn’t your run of the mill funny flick at all and that’s exactly what makes it worth tracking down.

The plot is a bit loopy for sure, but the cast makes it work as things move from silly to serious and back again. If you’ve yet to see it, you can walk in on this film at a few different points and think you’re watching two or three different movies. It’s got some screwball elements for sure, but it’s also deeply romantic and suddenly serious as it ping-pongs about the emotional spectrum. Then again, real life is just like that at many times (which is why I like this oldie so much)…
Continue reading