“Flower Belle: what a euphonious appellation. Easy on the ears and a banquet for the eyes.”
On her way to Greasewood City, Flower Belle Lee (Mae West) meets a lustful traveling salesman (W.C. Fields) and pretends to marry him in order to gain respectability. Meanwhile, she carries on affairs with a shady saloon owner (Joseph Calleia), a newspaper man (Dick Foran), and a mysterious masked bandit, yet refuses to let the frustrated Fields — who has been named sheriff of Greasewood City — near her.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Mae West Films
- Morality Police
- W.C. Fields Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
My Little Chickadee is notorious as the only pairing of screen icons W.C. Fields and Mae West. Though it’s considered by many to be a sub-par comedic outing (see the review links below), I have to say I disagree: it’s full of countless hilarious moments, and — as with many Fields vehicles — the rather silly plot matters far less than the constant innuendos and gags. West — delightfully described by Time Out as “the first female female impersonator” — is as self-confident and curvaceous as ever, flirting shamelessly while she rolls her eyes upwards with a smirk.
But as Peary notes, it’s Fields who really shines here, as we see him “chatting incessantly, bragging, lying, telling weird anecdotes, [and] using a weird language all his own.” Also of note is Margaret Hamilton, playing heavily on her Wizard of Oz characterization as a shrewish witch, but given much more comedic range. Best of all, however, are the few scenes in which West and Fields play off of each other — it’s a shame this was their only joint venture.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- W.C. Fields at his lying, conniving, cowardly best
- Margaret Hamilton as a meddling bluenose
- Many humorously racy lines:
“I have some very definite pear-shaped ideas that I’d like to discuss with you.”
Yes. While maligned by many modern critics, My Little Chickadee remains a delightful, historically relevant comedy.