For Reel

Broadminded (1931)
August 8, 2016, 12:18 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
3 Stars
BroadmindedBroadminded opens with one of the most bizarre, fetishistic sequences in a pre-Code comedy—a high society party in which all the attendees are dressed as babies. The centerpiece involves Joe E. Brown riding in a crib, wearing a bonnet, and drinking from a milk bottle as a dozen or so attractive young women watch in suggestive admiration. From there, it’s a pretty standard road picture, but some of the particulars (including a threatening adversary played by Bela Lugosi) feel similarly unique. At this stage in his career, the studios didn’t seem to quite know how to best serve Brown’s persona—as with Going Wild, here he suggests the standard of the modern man, with his very stylishness clashing with his brash persona and creating a fairly unlikable combination. To better serve all audiences, Brown would later appear more wholesome, both in his demeanor and in steering pretty clear of the sexuality that opens Broadminded. Aside from Lugosi, Thelma Todd also appears in a small role, giving the film the appeal of seeing both of the performers before their careers would take drastic (in Todd’s case, tragic) turns. Marjorie White steals the show as the blonde who has her sights set on Brown, and Margaret Livingston contributes fine work as the high society ex-fiancée of William Collier Jr.