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John Francis Dillon
Mitzi Green, at 10 was a vaudeville veteran who specialised in impersonations of famous stars and Jackie Searl had been a popular radio personality since the age of 3. They both excelled in playing movie brats but when they were teamed in "Finn and Hattie" and later "Newly Rich" (which was a hilarious movie about child stars) the results were fantastic. Both films gave them top comedians to work with
"Newly Rich" had Edna May Oliver and Louise Fazenda as two stage
mothers, "Finn and Hattie" has the superb Leon Errol and Zasu Pitts with the wonderful Lilyan Tashman as a scheming "Princess"!!
The Haddocks are going on a European vacation and from their reception at the station, where the whole town goes to see them off, it is clear who wears the pants in the family - it's their daughter Mildred (Mitzi Green). Her parents often proclaim she is a genius - but she is just smarter than them, which wouldn't be too hard!!! On the train, Finn (Leon Errol) meets shyster Harry (Regis Toomey) who sizes Finn up as a sucker and quickly wires his partner Bessie, aka "The Princess" to make Finn's acquaintance and take him for everything he has. (Finn has pulled out a gold watch and of course Harry thinks he is wealthy!!)
They all meet on the boat - the Haddocks are joined by Sidney (Jackie Searl) Mildred's obnoxious little cousin. Mildred promises her father faithfully to look after Sidney - and she does, she does!!! From making him jump overboard as human bait to sending him down the coal scuttle, Mildred and Sidney show that movie brats were much more entertaining to watch than simpering little goody goodys. Mildred realises that the "Princess" is a con artist but after helping her dad avoid disaster with an incriminating love letter on the boat, they run into her in Paris. Meanwhile Hattie has befriended a thrice divorced woman who convinces her that Finn is like all men - a beast!!! The "Princess" is out to fleece Finn of all his money so Mildred and Sidney have to act fast.
This is a hilarious film, even funnier than "Newly Rich" - if that's possible. The kids have plenty of peppery lines - "You're awful nice Pop but you don't know what it's all about" Mildred tells her father as she gets him out of another scrape. "You have to leave the room - little boys shouldn't know such things" Hattie tells Sidney when he presents her with the salvaged love letter, he replies "but little boys want to"!! Leon Errol was a popular comedian of stage and screen in the 20s and 30s, whose trademark was a wobbly walk that he used in drunk routines (he uses it in this movie). He made many shorts, usually portraying a husband getting mixed up with a pretty girl and having to endure his wife's wrath - similar to the plot in this film!! There are lots of people to watch in this movie, including Harry Beresford as an upper crust street sweeper who advises the Haddocks on which is the "ritziest" restaurant in town. Directed by Norman Taurog who had a wonderful affinity with child actors - "Skippy", "Sooky", "Newly Rich" and "Huckleberry Finn" and written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who later went on to write "A Letter to Three Wives" (1949) and "All About Eve" (1950) - "Finn and Hattie" is a wonderful way to spend a rainy afternoon.
Highly, Highly Recommend.
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