For Reel


Gold Rush Maisie (1940)
March 2, 2015, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Edwin L. Marin
3.5 Stars
Gold Rush MaisieThe third of the Maisie films is a radical diversion from other installments in the series. While it follows the expected outline of the stranded Maisie (Ann Sothern) trying her best to make a living in a new locale, it just about abandons her romantic exploits (although chemistry is occasionally teased between her and a hermetic rancher played by Lee Bowman) and takes on a much more somber tone. It seems absurd to put the brassy showgirl in the middle of The Grapes of Wrath, but something about the mix works. After all, Maisie is an icon of the working class–a woman who begins every film with nowhere to go and by the end of it finds some level of financial success and changes lives while she’s at it. Gold Rush Maisie seriously confronts poverty by introducing the Davis family (Virginia Weidler, Mary Nash, John F. Hamilton & Scotty Beckett), a Joad family knockoff who she gains an enormous affection for. The tropes of the noble poor are the expected ones (in their introduction, the matriarch distributes a paltry supper to her family and takes the least for herself), but Sothern’s reaction shots and the calm sincerity in which she talks to the family really sells the dynamic. Although it doesn’t provide the laughs and lightness of tone expected of the series, Gold Rush Maisie is one of the more interesting installments.

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