Thursday, February 22, 2024

Johnny Trouble meets Miss Dove

It's time for yet one more of the movies that TCM ran during their spotlight to B movies over the summer, this one from the 1950s: According to Mrs. Hoyle.

The first thing to note is that the print TCM ran looks like a 16mm print for TV in that it's a bit wavy and not the sharp print that a 35mm print would be. That, and it's from Monogram so well down the ladder of studios. After the opening credits, we cut to what looks like a classroom if it were a mock-up of one for a TV show. There, the assorted bigwigs are about to bid a fond farewell to Mrs. Harriet Hoyle (Spring Byington), who has been teaching at the school for a quarter century but is now retiring after having taught many young men who grew up to become something of a success in life.

So in some ways, Mrs. Hoyle's life has been a success, but in other ways not so much, as she lives in one of those apartment hotels that were a thing before urban renewl shut down such things in the drive for better housing. Coming into the place is Morganti (Anthony Caruso), a gangster who has decided he wants to go straight and go into some sort of legitimate business. With that in mind, he's bought the hotel in order to be able to tear it down and turn it into something better. The only problem is all those residents, who are going to have to be evicted. Mrs. Hoyle is so charming, however, that she's going to ge Morganti to allow her to stay on.

And the tenants aren't really the only problem. Morganti has underlings, and some of them aren't so keen on trying to go straight, thinking it's a mug's game. Not in that number is young Eddie (Brett King). He takes out his suitcase, and we see a photo that looks remarkably like a younger Mrs. Hoyle.

Indeed, it is a younger Mrs. Hoyle, and Eddie is her son, not that she knows it. Mrs. Hoyle is too trusting of everybody, as we've already seen, and that extended to her husband, who she thought was a traveling salesman who from time to time would send her samples of the stuff he was selling. Of course, you can guess that Mr. Hoyle was a thief, presumably in Morganti's gang, and these are real jewels he's fencing. One day long ago, Mrs. Hoyle says, he just disappeared, taking her son with him, which somehow didn't embitter her.

One of the guys who really doesn't like Morganti's change of heart sees a business that hasn't been robbed before, and figures he's got the perfect scheme to rob it. However, part of that scheme is going to involve using Mrs. Hoyle to hide the stolen goods, her not knowing there are even any stolen goods to be hidden. But sure enough, the police are going to find out, and Mrs. Hoyle will face serious trouble....

Oh boy this is dated, hokey stuff. By the early 1950s when it was released, According to Mrs. Hoyle doesn't seem like the sort of stuff that would make it to movies any more, but land as part of some crappy anthology TV series that needed large numbers of cheap scripts, never mind the quality as long as the sponsor was paying to get the program made. Byington does the best she can, but the character she's asked to play is just too unrealistically good. Everyone else is from the bottom of the acting barrel, and the movie screams low budget all the way through.

As always, judge for yourself, but According to Mrs. Hoyle is decidedly sub-par material.

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