For Reel

Fireman, Save My Child (1932)
December 1, 2014, 2:13 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Lloyd Bacon
2.5 Stars
Fireman, Save My ChildComedies in the early-1930s were often of the variety that would lead to the eventual enforcement of the Production Code. Sexuality was a major focus, with innuendo-laced dialogue being delivered by carefree sophisticates. It’s no surprise, then, that Joe E. Brown was able to carve a name for himself as a major box office draw by appealing to small town movie goers. His corn-fed, “aw, shucks” type of appeal was decidedly family friendly. Fireman, Save My Child is a prime example of his stardom. Brown plays a genius inventor, renowned pitcher, and local hero. Even when he’s threatened to be compromised by a gold digger, he naively navigates the distraction and doesn’t become fully swayed… or even aware that he’s been duped! In the midst of a Depression, it must have been heartening for audiences to see a film in which a good-natured, small town man can get by just on the strength of his determination and kindness. Today, the film doesn’t have much of a bite to it–it’s not merely the absence of the expected pre-Code shenanigans, but by the fact that Brown plays such a superhero that there’s never a sense of urgency or danger, even when fires are blazing and a baseball game gets too close for comfort in the ninth inning. Brown’s performance isn’t as comedic as some of his others, but he does get to show off his talents as a baseball player–when Warner Brothers first signed Brown, it was stipulated in his contract that he was guaranteed a personal baseball team!

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