Friday, June 15, 2018

Tonight's Movie: Baby Face Harrington (1935) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

I had a hectic workweek, hence a quiet few days here on the blog. It was great to reach Friday evening and curl up with a cute little 62-minute comedy, BABY FACE HARRINGTON (1935). It was just released on DVD by the Warner Archive.

BABY FACE HARRINGTON was directed by Raoul Walsh. Charles Butterworth plays the title role. Willie, as he's known in ordinary life, is a milquetoast clerk with a loving wife, Millicent (Una Merkel), but not much else.

Being a glass is half full kind of man, Willie points out to Millicent that they have a house, a car, a radio, and a vacuum cleaner, all the things one could want in life. When Millicent responds that they have a mortgage and that the car and vacuum aren't in good shape, Willie hopefully asks, "How's the radio?"

Butterworth, whose deadpan line readings always tickle my funnybone, is amusing as a man whose life from that point spirals out of control. He plans to ask for a raise and ends up being fired; he cashes in a life insurance policy to pay off the mortgage only to erroneously think it's stolen, and he robs the man (Donald Meek) he thinks took the money.

Willie later finds his own money in his car, but it's too late, he's now a robber and a bored news media in need of eye-catching headlines decides to dub him "Baby Face Harrington." They create an entire persona and storyline for him, asserting that he has a dual personality and is responsible for a crime wave. It's "fake news," 1935 style!

Things get even crazier as Willie is sprung from jail by a gang headed by Rocky (Nat Pendleton).

It may not be a great movie, but it's a fun and entertaining little film which sprints by quickly in not much more than an hour. Butterworth and Merkel are backed by a solid cast which also includes Eugene Pallette, Harvey Stephens, Robert Livingston, and Claude Gillingwater. Look for Dennis O'Keefe in the background at the country club.

The movie was filmed by Oliver T. Marsh.

The print and sound are generally quite good, though there are a couple random lines in the print. The DVD includes a trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.

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