Sunday, March 17, 2013


I don't think Joan Blondell's in thereI very briefly made mention of the movie Smarty when it aired back in March 2011. It's getting another airing tomorrow morning at 11:00 AM on TCM. It's an comedy with a bunch of good stars and an odd premise whose oddness makes it worth watching.

Joan Blondell and Warren William are the stars; at the beginning of the movie they're playing married couple Vicki and Tony. It's Vicki's birthday, and she wants to spend the evening playing bridge with some of her friends instead of going to the theater, which is what Tony had planned for her birthday. Those friends include Vernon (Edward Everett Horton), a lawyer who is more Vicki's friend than Tony's. At least, it would seem that way because Vernon has his eyes on Vicki despite her being married. Tony doesn't particularly like playing bridge with Vernon, and Vicki uses this to engineer an argument which results in her getting slapped by Tony! (I told you the movie has an odd premise: this is supposed to be funny, remember.)

Vernon is no dummy. He realizes that a wife getting smacked is grounds for divorce. So he persuades Vicki that it wouldn't be a bad idea to get a divorce from Tony. Once the divorce is finalized, Vernon will be able to marry Vicki. All this happens in the first half of the movie, so you know that the characters aren't all going to live happily ever after. At least, not without a lot more complications along the way. For Vicki, that means being a high-maintenance woman who wants Vernon to cater for her every whim, while at the same time teasing Vernon by continuing to make eyes at Tony. Tony, for his part, is trying to make the best of it by carrying on with married Bonnie (Joan Wheeler), although since he wasn't the one to file for divorce, he wouldn't have minded if he and Vicki had stayed married the whole time.

As I said, it's all a very odd premise. It's one of those old movies that, because of its age, its being a programmer only running about 65 minutes, and not having been released to DVD, it hasn't gotten a lot of reviews on IMDb. Those people who did write comments have by and large been more negative than positive. For my part, however, I liked the movie, in part because it is so bizarre. Blondell comes across as unsympathetic, but does a good job of it. Edward Everett Horton is great as always in a supporting role playing the "other" man. The cast also includes some other great character actors, notably Frank McHugh as another of the friends making up the social circle.

I briefly mentioned above that Smarty has never been released to DVD. So, you're going to have to catch it on TCM.

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