For Reel

Fly Away Baby (1937)
September 19, 2015, 12:16 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Frank McDonald
3 Stars
Fly Away BabyThe second installment of the Torchy Blane series improves on the first by foregrounding the things that make the films unique. In the first picture, Steve McBride (Barton MacLane) largely served as the leading man, with Torchy (Glenda Farrell) offering up her expertise at crime-solving in small doses. Fly Away Baby is a much better showcase for Farrell and the writing does more favors for the actors by doubling down on the bantering–it is clear that Farrell and MacLane have already developed a much more comfortable rapport. Most interestingly, the picture prioritizes the feminist themes that are inherent to the series, with much of the conversation involving the significance of Torchy’s gender in the mystery context. McBride, dismissing Torchy’s expert analysis, argues, “It takes a masculine mind and years of experience to crack these cases! Now, you just go on back to your office and write a little story about what the women’s clubs are doing to promote world peace and then I’ll take you out to dinner.” With dialogue like this, the film becomes one that not only promotes the competency of women, but also makes a mockery of a certain brand of old-fashioned masculinity, defined by ignorance and pigheadedness.