Saturday, May 27, 2006

Today's Movie: The Male Animal (1942)

THE MALE ANIMAL is a mildly amusing comedy based on a Broadway play by Elliott Nugent and James Thurber. Henry Fonda plays a put-upon college professor who grows tired of being criticized both at work and at home. Olivia DeHavilland is Fonda's wife and Jack Carson is DeHavilland's former beau, a one-time college football star in town for homecoming.

The high point of the film is a splendid drunk scene in which Fonda attempts to explain the "male animal" and figure out what to do to save his marriage. Otherwise, the film is nicely acted and has some sharp lines but is rather "stagey" and just moderately entertaining.

Two future sitcom stars, Herbert Anderson of DENNIS THE MENACE and Don DeFore of HAZEL, play a nerd and a football player, respectively, who are emulating the Fonda-DeHavilland-Carson triangle as they vie for DeHavilland's kid sister, Joan Leslie.

The original play's co-author and leading man, Nugent, directed.

THE MALE ANIMAL is available on video.

May 2009 Update: This film is now available on DVD. It appears to be from the Warner Archive, yet curiously is currently sold only at Amazon as an "Amazon exclusive."

Update: This film is now available on DVD directly from the Warner Archive.


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