Tuesday, November 5, 2019
Broadway Limited (1941)
Hollywood stage actress April Tremaine is feeling shackled to her job, under the constant watchful eye of domineering and eccentric boss Ivan. Coming up with a new source of inspiration for a show, he insists April get a baby. At first he means literally , but after she emphatically declines, he fobs the job off onto his secretary, who enlists an old boyfriend to help her. He goes asking around in bars for a baby, and is met with three men who are eager to hand one over...Suspiciously so.
As everyone arrives on the train, they look forward to the voyage ahead. April meets up with an old school friend, now a handsome doctor who feels alienated from April now that she's living among the famous. Also on board is a flighty screenwriter, scary children, and a suspicious detective, looking for a kidnapped baby...
Broadway Limited is a highly entertaining comedy! It's another of those 'train' pictures and everything comes together well in this one. We get plenty of distinctive characters, amusing scrapes and situations, as well as often funny dialogue
The movie is paced well, starting off with a good introduction to the leads and the situation, never introducing too much or too many people all at once. It's a steady dripfeed.
The cast here is bundles of fun. Each feel unique, and have something that stands out about them. The film manages to keep them all occupied, and they each get just enough to do, and never too much over anyone else. I would've liked some of the cast to do a bit more, but they get the minimum amount, and you're never left thinking "Man, I like the movie and all, but X really shoulda appeared more".
The only characters who end up getting shortchanged are the villains. This does end up making sense, but it is still disappointing. I'm not sure I care much for the reveal of who they really are. It all happens very quickly too, in the last minute!
There are a couple of weird things about the movie. Like how April is all set to give up working as soon as she gets married to Harvey. Thankfully the movie makes it clear enough that the job (and Ivan the terrible) is making her pretty miserable, so it doesn't feel like a sexist cop-out that she's deciding to give up/giving up her career to be with her new husband, despite the greater amount of money she was making compared to him.
The acting here is really good. No two are the same. On the women's side of things there's April (Marjorie Woodworth) the straightlaced and passionate actress, the snarky and lively secretary Patsy (Patsy Kelly), and the [dreamy] and somewhat oblivious writer (ZaSu Piitts). With the men, there's the typical hunky/good-looking romantic lead Harvey (Dennis O'Keefe), Ivan (Leonid Kinskey) is a neurotic and crazy [mess], and Maurice (Victor McLaglen) is a [dopey] but well-meaning lug.
Regarding Leonid Kinskey, a real surprise for me is that he's actually Russian! In hindsight I probably should've been tipped off by the numerous moments when he rattles off a few sentences in another language, but I just assumed he was speaking gibberish! It's funny how English speakers have such a clear picture of a Russian accent from all the stereotypical Hollywood pictures that when we hear a real one, it sounds unconvincing because 'Russians don't sound like that!'.
Infant actors are naturally unreliable, being babies [and all]. The one here though impresses quite a bit with its facial expressions! I put this down to fortuitous luck, or a born actor! The movie really sells the idea that babies are sweet and adorable! I'm not saying they're not in real life, but some can be absolute nightmare. The one here though is everything wonderful and sweet about them!
Broadway Limited is quite a nice time capsule of the time it was made in in a few different ways, from the multi-part radio programs that enthralled the world/their listeners with their melodramatic antics, and at the Broadway Limited herself, a now [in-the-past] railway line from Chicago to New York
Broadway Limited is a very fun movie, and well worth checking out. You're sure of a good time with this one, and there's no doubt that it'll be more entertaining than an actual train ride. Unless you're lucky enough to come across some intrigue yourself, that is...