Maisie (1939)

“I’ll talk ya deaf, dumb, and blind, and sometimes I’ll make ya so mad you’ll want to kill me — but I’ll never lie to ya, Slim, or cheat ya.”

Maisie Poster

Synopsis:
An out-of-work actress (Ann Sothern) finagles a job as a maid on a ranch run by a gunshy cowpoke named Slim (Robert Young). Soon she finds herself falling in love with Slim, and running interference in a rocky marriage between the gentle ranch owner (Ian Hunter) and his cheating wife (Ruth Hussey).

Genres:

Review:
Brassy blonde Ann Sothern earned her greatest fame playing the title character in this MGM B-level “comedy adventure” and its nine sequels (including Congo Maisie, Maisie Goes to Reno, and Undercover Maisie, to name just a few). The 75-minute faux-western storyline — involving a dysfunctional wealthy couple, a suspected murder, a reticent romance, a courtroom revelation, buffalo, and more — is clumsy and far-fetched, but ultimately beside the point: the primary reason to watch, naturally, is Sothern’s sassy performance as Maisie; she’s an appealing enough spitfire that we almost don’t mind watching her maneuver through such a drivelly plot. With that said, Maisie will primarily be of interest either to fans of Sothern, or to die-hard film fanatics curious to see what once passed as popular entertainment; otherwise, it can’t rightly be called must-see viewing.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Ann Sothern as Maisie
    Maisie Sothern

Must See?
No, but it’s worth a cursory look if you stumble upon it on TCM.

Links:

One Response to “Maisie (1939)”

  1. I’d probably have to lean toward a must here.

    Mostly, of course, for Ann Sothern’s spunky performance. But also, surprisingly, for the film itself – even if it takes something of a distant second.

    Sothern is such a refreshing presence on-screen (esp. here) that ffs need to take note. She grabs her character with both hands and runs with her, so we’re always interested in what she’ll do next. (I’ve always had a fondness for Sothern – she stands out uniquely in the company of such other [usu.] supporting wisecrackers as Eve Arden and Joan Blondell.)

    I went into this film hesitant (based on the little I knew of the series) and blind (I’d seen none of the ten films). To my surprise, I soon found myself swept up into it. Yes, the storyline is, to a degree, “far-fetched”, but I don’t know that I’d say “clumsy”. It is definitely a “faux-western”, mixed as it is with western types and east-coast sophisticates. But, for me, that’s its appeal. The culture-clash aspect keeps the plot tripping along through a seemingly endless series of duet scenes (often with snappy dialogue), particularly among the four main characters.

    I especially like the scenes between Sothern and the cuckolded Ian Hunter (who would come off to good effect in the following year’s ‘Strange Cargo’). The two have a sincere chemistry as their touching friendship develops.

    FFs would do well to catch Sothern’s performances at least in the following: ‘A Letter to Three Wives’, ‘The Best Man’, (the hard-to-find) ‘Sylvia’ and (her final, Oscar-nominated role) ‘The Whales of August’.

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