Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Molly and Me

FXM Retro ran the movie Molly and Me this morning, and are running it again tomorrow morning at 8:05 AM. It's another of those movies that's worth one viewing at least.

Molly (Gracie Fields) is an out-of-work actress in 1937 London who thinks she might have a chance at a job. There's only one problem: the job is as a housekeeper for a rather particular man who apparently doesn't like the theater. To that end, she's getting everybody at the theatrical boarding house where she lives to take down any ecidence that this might be for actors. But there's one more problem: she doesn't have references. Good luck ensues, however, when another former actress Kitty (Natalie Schaefer) who has married well shows up. Kitty can provide references. Anyhow, the rich man's butler Peabody (Reginald Gardner) shows up and gets the feeling he's seen Molly before. It's not until he sees Kitty that the secret is revealed: Peabody was in the theater himself, and is playing at being a butler. One theather person in the house can fake it, but two would be too mwny.

Molly wangles her way into the rich man's home anyhow. All of the actors go out for a reunion celebration, and Peabody gets frightfully drunk, to the point that Molly has to help him get into the house. So she simply takes over the housekeeper's room for herself and acts as though Peabody approved of her. It's a ruse, of course, but she could always expose his theatrical past and get him fired. Besides, she takes the flowers that the gardener has cut and arranges them in one of the rooms in a way that the man of the house, one John Graham (Monty Woolley), says that he actually likes.

As for Graham, he's got a son Jimmy (Roddy McDowall) he never sees off at boarding school, and an ex-wife who ran away when Jimmy was just a baby, a divorce that led to Graham having to resign from Parliament. Graham, for his part, lied to his son and told Jimmy that his mother died tragically when in fact she's half a world away. They have a crappy relationship as a result. Meanwhile, his servants -- the real ones, not the actors -- have been robbing Graham blind. Molly discovers this, and fires all of the servants, which doesn't cause that big a problem for the time being because Graham is resurrecting his political career by running in a by-electoin someplace out in the English countryside. So when Jimmy shows up unexpectedly, Molly is the only one there, and the two hit it off well. There's a problem, though, in that Dad announces he's coming home and will be needing a formal dinner for eight laid on. Molly can't do it all herself, and finds that none of the employment agencies have staff available at this short notice. Molly finally decides to hire all those actors from the theatrical home in the hope that they can play parts. Complicating matters is that one of the dinner guests is Kitty.

There's one more problem that Molly's going to have to deal with, and that's the return of Jimmy's mother (Doris Lloyd). She's found out that Graham is running for Parliament again. Needing money, she figures that she can blackmail him. If he doesn't give her £1,000, she'll spill the dirt on what really happened between the two of them, which will hopefully scupper his political career and destory his relationship with his son. This gives all the actors one more chance to play parts again in a scheme to scare off Mrs. Graham....

Molly and Me is in some ways episodic, with some of the episodes lasting a bit too long (Molly getting the job), and others feeling rushed (having to deal with Mrs. Graham at her hotel). Still, Gracie Fields does a good enough job of making all of this feel enjoyable, while Monty Woolley is playing the irascible but ultimately likeable character that he had given us in The Man Who Came to Dinner and would do again in The Bishop's Wife. There are some songs that I found detracted from the movie, but overall the movie isn't all that bad.

Molly and Me does seem to have received a DVD-R release, at least according to Amazon, so you should be able to get a copy if you so desire.

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