My Little Chickadee (1940)

My Little Chickadee (1940)
6.8
  • 2597
  • Passed
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release year: 1940 ()
  • Running time: 83 min
  • Original Title: My Little Chickadee
  • Voted: 2597

Rightly suspected of illicit relations with the Masked Bandit, Flower Belle Lee is run out of Little Bend. On the train she meets con man Cuthbert J. Twillie and pretends to marry him for "respectability." Arrived in Greasewood City with his unkissed bride, Twillie is named sheriff by town boss Jeff Badger...with an ulterior motive. Meanwhile, both stars inimitably display their specialties, as Twillie tends bar and plays cards, and Flower Belle tames the town's rowdy schoolboys...

#PersonCharacters
1Mae WestFlower Belle Lee
2W.C. FieldsCuthbert J. Twillie
3Joseph CalleiaJeff Badger
4Dick ForanWayne Carter
  • It's A Tie by 7

    Although My Little Chickadee did not turn out to be the comedy smash of all time, both W.C. Fields and Mae West got in enough of their own shtick to make it worthwhile to see. What I can't figure out is when both were under contract at Paramount earlier in the decade why Adolph Zukor never thought of teaming them.

    Probably because both of them were highly individualized and highly specialized performers. Both wrote their own material, but Mae believed her words were golden as she wrote them and Bill Fields was notorious with the ad-libs, even with a script he wrote.

    Like Dallas in Stagecoach, Mae West as Flower Belle gets kicked out of one town and heads for another town accompanied by one of the Lady's League in the person of Margaret Hamilton. She's been spotted by Hamilton entertaining the mysterious masked bandit as only Mae entertains.

    On the train she meets up with small time con man Cuthbert J. Twillie, a Fields pseudonym if there ever was one. She's convinced she's got a bankroll and she needs a husband to maintain a respectable front. Her gambler friend Donald Meek who looks like a clergyman and remember in Stagecoach Thomas Mitchell originally thought he was one, marries them on the train.

    As a husband Fields is as ardent as Bob Hope was in The Paleface with Jane Russell who also needed to get married out of necessity to a stooge. He's sure willing enough, but Mae's to smart for him as she's got town editor Dick Foran and saloon owner Joseph Calleia panting hot and heavy for her as well.

    My favorite moment is when Mae slips a goat into her bed and Fields gets a big surprise when he thinks he's finally going to score.

    I'd have to say the film's a tie in terms of these two icons trying to top the other. There's plenty enough here to satisfy fans of both Mae and Bill and the many like myself who love both of them.

  • Pairing of two super egos with flare and fun by 10

    You could call it "slapstick" at its best. They don't make them like W C Fields and Mae West anymore. Is that a good thing? Probably. Any imitations could hardly live up to their special brand of comedy. That episode on the train where they get acquainted -- "It is not good for man to be alone" quoth he, from the Bible at that. "Yeah, it's not much fun for a woman either," says she. "Do you think it possible for us to be alone together?" he asks. "Quite possible," is her reply. Who can resist a smile at that dialog!

    By the way, for one scene how they could get that billy goat to lie down in bed under blankets, I'll never know! There's also a scene of a young girl coming into the bar slightly tipsy and I'm sure it's a young Celeste Holmes but there are no credits to verify this. I wonder if anyone else has noticed this?

    Flower Belle (Mae West) is burning the midnight oil with "The Bandit," who is masked of course. She also encounters a naive editor (Dick Foran) and conquers that territory too to some extent. Well, for Flower Belle it's all in a day's work, you might say. Townsfolk are up in arms and intent on finding the Masked Bandit. Along the way they make W C Fields their sheriff but that doesn't solve anything. Meanwhile down at the saloon...

    This movie with Mae is the one I like best.

  • Fun Fields and West Comedy Pairing by 8

    I love this little gem of a movie. It has two of the great stars of the early cinema, W.C. Fields and Mae West.

    Fields is hilarious in his role as con man/card shark Cuthbert J. Twillie, who meets Flower Belle Lee (Miss West's character) on a train bound for Greasewood, a town that is ran by corrupt saloon owner Jeff Badger (Joseph Calleia). Flower Belle was ran out of her previous town and cannot return until she is married and a respectful woman, i.e., not promiscuous. She marries Cuthbert just to give her some respectability and it's hilarious to watch Fields pathetic attempts to try to be with his unwilling bride.

    Of course, since this a Mae West film (both she and Fields wrote the screenplay) there are several funny double entendres in the film and Mae gets to sing a song, Willie of the Valley. I love both Mae West and W.C. Fields...they were both legends and I really wish they would have made another film together. The Hollywood rumor mill had it that they actually couldn't stand each other off screen, but if this is true, and I tend to believe that their feud was exaggerated for publicity purposes, you could not tell it by their performances. They had terrific on screen chemistry together.

    "My Little Chickadee" is a fun film all the way around.

  • High Concept by 7

    I believe that, some time in the 1970's, more than thirty years after MY LITTLE CHICKADEE was made, the term "high concept" was coined. So, starting in the seventies, a lot of movies with sure-fire ideas became the trend. ("What?", someone, circa 1990 might say, "Arnold Schwarzenegger is being teamed with Danny DeVito? Why, that must be hilarious!") So, clearly, somebody thought the idea of W.C. Fields and Mae West sharing the silver screen would work, and MY LITTLE CHICKADEE remains the ultimate example of both the pitfalls and the merits of High Concept movie-making. Fields and West, both iconic figures, were actually so similar that the audience's loyalties are torn. We watch a West picture to observe Mae West turn the tables on men and we watch a Fields picture to watch Fields flout authority. When Fields and West meet and appear to like each other (he wanting sex and she wanting money) we love them both. Fields gets off one of his most memorable lines as he holds her fingers up to his lips and says, "What symmetrical digits.") She, in turn, throws her false submission at him, letting us know between the lines that she's a woman of steel. So far, so good. Their romance is viewed suspiciously by a character actress who is the perfect foil for both of them: Margaret Hamilton, who, of course, played the Wicked Witch of the West the year before in THE WIZARD OF OZ. Fields and West are married aboard the train by West's con-man friend -- hence, they are not really being married -- and this actor is also the sort of figure who belongs in a movie with either Fields or West. But let's cut to the chase. Both Fields and West have separate moments for the rest of the movie and each of these moments is somewhat minimal. West's scene teaching a classroom of overgrown adolescents seems to be a whitewashing of a bawdy routine from her stage days. It almost makes it. Fields's various encounters with gamblers and a female drunk (who HAS to be Celeste Holm, uncredited, as someone else on this board has noted) are promising, but somehow never really engaging. Thinking about this movie, nevertheless, brings a smile to the face. There are so many little things which, popping into the memory, are funny, that it has to be acknowledged that MY LITTLE CHICKADEE achieved its goal: driving into our minds the idea of the harmony of two comics who'd made audiences howl with laughter in live performance twenty years earlier. It should also be said that the ideal audience for MY LITTLE CHICKADEE is an audience in a darkened movie theatre. Ideally, the year should be the year it was made and the audience should be made up of people who've been anticipating this pairing and would be more than willing to hoot throughout. Has anybody got a time machine?

  • For one performance only by 7

    With these two, it should have been one of the greatest comedy films of all time. Yes, it falls short of that, but only because of the expectations. Be grateful for what it is instead of regretful for what it isn't. If you like these two, the film is a treasure.

#PersonCrew
1Joseph A. Valentinecinematographer
2Frank Skinnercomposer
3Edward F. Clinedirector
4Edward Curtisseditor
5Lester Cowanproducer