For Reel


Ringside Maisie (1941)
December 2, 2013, 5:19 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Edwin L. Marin
3 Stars
Ringside MaisieThe fifth entry of the Maisie series sees Maisie (Ann Sothern) quickly out-of-work after she quits her exhausting job as a taxi dancer. She finds her way to a boxing camp wherein she meets a sensitive up-and-comer, Terry Dolan (Robert Sterling), and his determined manager, “Skeets” Maguire (George Murphy). A love triangle soon blossoms, even if Terry is committed to his dull girlfriend, “Cissy” Reardon (Natalie Thompson). Despite being set in the ultra-masculine world of boxing, it is Maisie who remains the strongest of the characters–in fact, the script makes a concerted effort to make Dolan increasingly vulnerable as the picture reaches its conclusion, keeping Maisie and her determination the star. Sothern and Sterling would marry in 1943 and this was the set on which they fell in love, however strangely enough her chemistry with Murphy is much more believable. She is expectedly terrific–especially in an early dance sequence in which she both gets across boredom and exudes a tremendous sex appeal–and Thompson is also quietly hilarious in an understated performance as the droll girlfriend. Despite the likable performances, however, there isn’t much about Ringside Maisie that is particularly memorable.



Maisie Was a Lady (1941)
December 2, 2013, 2:52 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Edwin L. Marin
4 Stars
Maisie Was a LadyIn the opening sequence of Maisie Was a Lady, a drunken Lew Ayres roams a carnival until he happens upon the spectacle of a headless woman. Her image is a perverse one–the woman’s dress is pulled back to better glimpse her long, stocking-clad legs, which Ayres then teases with a toy for a laugh. Devoid of a face and a voice, this fetishized image of the showgirl is disturbingly apt in some representations of the profession. It is a remarkably ironic set-up for the fourth entry in the Maisie series, wherein Ann Sothern plays a Brooklyn showgirl with a heart of gold–a showgirl who is far from the typical sex symbol indeed. Her lower class wiles makes her a sort of transcendental guru for those she encounters, and underneath all of her wisecracks she possesses true wisdom. Sothern is well-matched in this installment with an impressive cast that includes Ayres, Maureen O’Sullivan, and C. Aubrey Smith. Ayres, taking a break from the Kildare pictures, recalls his great performance in Holiday as a cynical drunk, alternating between childishly funny and morose. The tone of the picture is similarly scattershot, however for the most part it works enormously well thanks to the talented performers.