Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Tonight's Movie: Brooklyn Orchid (1942) - A ClassicFlix DVD Review

BROOKLYN ORCHID (1942) is the first of three films in the new ClassicFlix release The Complete Hal Roach Streamliners Collection, Volume 3: The Taxi Comedies.

I've been enjoying getting to know the Streamliners over the last few weeks thanks to these ClassicFlix volumes, beginning with TANKS A MILLION (1941) and HAY FOOT (1942) in Volume I and DUDES ARE PRETTY PEOPLE (1942) in Volume 2.

I have more ahead to enjoy in those sets, but first I wanted to try out Volume 3 and BROOKLYN ORCHID. William Bendix and Joe Sawyer play Tim McGuerin and Eddie Corbett, working class guys who have worked their way up to ownership of a thriving Brooklyn cab company.

Tim has a beautiful home, a butler, and a wife named Sadie (Grace Bradley) who's attempting to forget her past as a stripper and break into high society, but Tim and Eddie are still rough-hewn types who remember their roots. They have a pool table in their executive office, and when Sadie gives a fancy party, they escape the pianist (Leonid Kinskey) and go fishing in their tuxedos.

Instead of catching a fish, Eddie reels in a young woman named Lucy (Marjorie Woodworth) who had attempted suicide. She places her future in the hands of her rescuers -- which will be hard to explain to Sadie or Eddie's fiancee Mabel (Florine McKinney).

Like all of the Streamliners, BROOKLYN ORCHID is a short film, just 50 minutes long. While I didn't find it as funny as the military comedies and Western I sampled from Volumes 1 and 2, I still found it fairly amusing and enjoyed it. Like the films in the previous sets, it was pleasant light entertainment short enough to squeeze in at the end of a busy day.

I particularly enjoyed the chance to see Grace Bradley (Mrs. William Boyd) in a juicy role; she's quite good as the social-climbing Sadie, with her exaggerated mannerisms and put-on high-class accent. This trio of "taxi" films, which also included THE MCGUERINS FROM BROOKLYN (1942) and TAXI, MISTER (1943), were Bradley's cinematic swan song after a decade in the movies; after TAXI, MISTER she retired to support her beloved husband in his long-running career as Hopalong Cassidy.

This was William Bendix's second film and first credited role. According to a biographical sketch by my friend Ivan Shreve for Radio Spirits, the "taxi" films led to Bendix landing the radio show THE LIFE OF RILEY (1944); he would star in the radio and TV versions of RILEY from 1944 to 1958. The same year BROOKLYN ORCHID was released Bendix began his regular onscreen association with his friend Alan Ladd in THE GLASS KEY (1942).

BROOKLYN ORCHID was directed by Kurt Neumann. It was filmed in black and white by Robert Pittack.

The print and sound quality are quite good. The disc includes five trailers for ClassicFlix releases.

Like the other volumes in the ClassicFlix Silver Series, the initial discs are pressed; when supplies run low they may then be released MOD (manufactured on demand).

I'll be reviewing additional films from all three referenced Streamliner sets as I watch my way through them.

Additional Streamliner sets are on the way, with Volume 4: Musicals due out in August and Volume 5: Pitts & Summerville Plus Other Rarities coming in October.

Thanks to ClassicFlix for providing a review copy of this DVD.


Blogger Lee R said...

Well, I just had a mystery that I heard today cleared up. I've been listening to some of the early Life of Riley radio shows and in the early shows I've heard at the end they credit "William Bendix appears courtesy of Hal Roach". I wondered what does Hal Roach have to do with Bendix? I don't remember seeing Bendix in Roach shorts or movies, but apparently he did indeed appear in these Roach movies. So thanks for clearing up a new mystery for me.

I don't know if I want to shell out for these Roach movies, but I wouldn't mind seeing them if they ever show up on TV. I did "shell out" for the excellent Thelma Todd/Pitts/Kelly shorts put out by Classic Flix. Being a big Laurel & Hardy fan ever since I was a kid I was anxious to see these female versions of L&H Roach shorts which I've heard of but have only seen a few of before. Thelma Todd is a genuine funny talent.

4:35 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Lee,

I'm glad that this review of one of Bendix's films for Roach cleared up that reference on the radio show!

Also glad to hear you liked the Todd/Pitts/Kelly set!

Best wishes,

6:54 PM  

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