One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
Director Norman Taurog was developing quite a specialty directing kids during the early talkie era, and lucky for us he kept coming back to it. NEWLY RICH (aka FORBIDDEN ADVENTURE, based on Sinclair Lewis' LET'S PLAY KING) is one of the more obscure examples, and deserves our attention. The first half resembles a poor man's Marie Dressler-Polly Moran social "competition" comedy, and the second half develops into an entertaining children's adventure tale. That the tale involves two boys and a girl sharing equal footing in all aspects of the adventure, ie, no break-down by preconceived gender expectations, should yank it out of obscurity and place it front and center among Pre-Code gems. Appreciating the picture requires a tolerance for the two great character actresses portraying competing stage mothers, Edna May Oliver and Louise Fazenda, both famous and notorious for their distinctive styles. The unusual chemistry results in a sort of burlesque variation of the Bette Davis-Miriam Hopkins duos, with Oliver the indomitable sage and Fazenda the mercurial clod. If you can find amusement with them, you will be rewarded with the performances of the kids involved -- the wonderfully lazy brat Jackie Searle, and the ebullient delivery style of savvy Mitzi Green. Green herself can move you to tears despite a penchant for a too-knowing, too precious delivery (a delivery which often enabled her to steal scenes from adult performers). Despite an improbable turn of events leading to the adventure portion, these kids manage to take command of the picture, assisted tremendously by Bruce Line charmingly portraying young King Max, who escapes with his new pals and finds 'forbidden adventure!' Definitely a product of more kid-friendly times, the film is never really going to frighten anyone beyond a sheltered fourth-grader, and yet it is the stunning acknowledgment of Green's character holding her own with the tough boys (perhaps tougher than most of them - she was a Vaudeville veteran, after all) which makes it so fabulous and worthy of watching today.
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