Movies Till Dawn: The Saturday Morning Strange – “Fight for Your Lady” (1937)

American opera singer John Boles (Colin Clive’s pal/one-time rival in the 1931 “Frankenstein”) decides that the best way to get over being jilted by his fiancée (Margot Grahame) – who left him for wrestler Gordon Jones (!) – is to pursue Ida Lupino, a Hungarian ventriloquist (!!) whose own fiancé (Astaire-Rogers co-star Erik Rhodes) has a reputation for murdering her would-be suitors (add your own exclamation points). Frantic and absurdly over-plotted comedy is best enjoyed as a vehicle for comedian Jack Oakie, whose snappy patter and weapons-grade double take is the high point of the picture. The script – co-written by, among others, gag scribe Ernest Pagano and future Oscar winner Harry Segall, who wrote the source material for “Here Comes Mr. Jordan” and “Heaven Can Wait,” with story co-credited to Jean Negulesco (“Johnny Belinda”) – appears to spoof the leaps in logic inherent to light musical comedy, but in doing so, creates its own bizarre vortex of impossible coincidences and contrivances: I could try to explain to you how Oakie goes from betting against his own wrestler to joining Boles’ inner circle by nursing him back to health through calisthenics (this after stealing his coat and forcing Grahame to call off their wedding) and ending up in drag, but I have a feeling that you won’t believe it. The supporting cast is thick with professional scene-stealers, including Billy Gilbert (the voice of Sneezy in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”), Paul Guilfoyle (not the “CSI” actor, but the former Broadway performer playing against his usual criminal casting as a boozy journalist), frequent Harold Lloyd co-star Brooks Benedict and Abbott and Costello cohort Bobby Barnes (who co-starred with Jones on their TV series); Frank Loesser provided the lyrics for Lupino’s surreal duet with her dummy. Warner Archive’s MOD is full-screen.

About Paul Gaita

Paul Gaita lives in Sherman Oaks, California with his lovely wife and daughter. He has written for The Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Variety and The Fix, among many other publications, and was a home video reviewer for Amazon.com from 1998 to 2014. He has interviewed countless entertainment figures from both the A and Z lists, but his favorites remain Elmore Leonard, Ray Bradbury and George Newall, who created both Schoolhouse Rock and the Hai Karate aftershave commercials. He once shared a Thanksgiving dinner with celebrity astrologer Joyce Jillson, and regrettably, still owes the late character actor Charles Napier a dollar.
This entry was posted in Movies. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Movies Till Dawn: The Saturday Morning Strange – “Fight for Your Lady” (1937)

  1. Ed Simon Ed Simon says:

    Back in the 70’s and 80’s I had the pleasure of being friends with Jean Negulesco. I’d sit in his house on North Bedford Street in BH that he bought from from Greta Garbo and listen to his many stories of the Golden Age of films. I still have a signed lithograph that he gave me of silent star Miriam Hopkins. What a wonderful, interesting man—-and he could make an excellent shrimp scampi!

  2. Paul Gaita says:

    Great story, Ed! Negulesco made a lot of very enjoyable movies (Mask of Dimitrios, Road House, Johnny Belinda, Rains of Ranchipur, etc.). This isn’t on par with those titles, but it’s amusing all the same.

Leave a Reply