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Robert Z. Leonard
Rod La Rocque,
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Middle-aged, small-town widow Hattie Burns is angered when a friend's daughter is inadvertently killed by s stray bullet in a gangland shootout at a local speakeasy. When Hattie confronts the mayor, a political hack running for re-election, at a campaign event about closing the illegal operations down, he brushes her off as only a woman. Other women at the rally draft her as a rival candidate with best-friend Ivy as campaign manager and female voters go on a "Lysistrata"-like parlor, bedroom, and bath strike in order to insure Hattie's election. Unfortunately, Hattie does not know that her daughter Myrtle's boyfriend, a reformed but wounded hoodlum, is hiding out in her attic. Written by
A stubborn widow creates quite a stir when she enters local city POLITICS to run for mayor.
MGM fashioned this pleasant little comedy/drama to showcase their surprisingly popular actress, Marie Dressler. She was beginning her meteoric rise to commence her reign as Hollywood's most popular star, a supremacy that was only cut short by her untimely death in 1934. Massive & shapeless, with a face that could stop a bus, Dressler embodied pure grandmotherly affection and the country gladly took her to their heart. She was also an excellent actress, equally adept at eliciting laughter or tears from her audiences, sometimes almost simultaneously. In the end, when cancer took her, the Mighty Marie proved utterly irreplaceable - truly one of Cinema's Grandest Ladies.
Receiving equal billing is Dressler's frequent comedy partner, Polly Moran. Diminutive & buxom, Polly was a fine comedienne in her own right, and MGM kept her very busy in the early 1930's. Acid-tongued & brash, Moran was adept at slapstick and in every way was an enjoyable sidekick for Marie. Here, gentle Dressler plays Moran's benevolent landlady, uninterested in Polly's political enthusiasms until sudden violence prompts Marie into galvanizing the women of the community, with Polly giving her full encouragement. Each is rewarded, as can be seen in the movie's final moments.
Stuttering Roscoe Ates appears as Polly's grumpy husband. Pretty Karen Morley is Marie's slightly duplicitous daughter, while William Bakewell is her wrong-side-of-the-law boyfriend; each are kept in the background to let the old girls shine. Also effective in very small roles are John Miljan as the local crime boss, Tom McGuire as Lake Port's corrupt mayor and lovely Joan Marsh as the tragic catalyst for the plot.
Movie mavens will spot an unbilled DeWitt Jennings in the role of the Police Chief. They will also notice the movie poster Joan Marsh gazes at in her first scene. It is for THE STOLEN JOOLS (1931 - aka THE SLIPPERY PEARLS). This was a comedy charity two-reeler in which more than 50 Hollywood stars appeared, including Polly Moran.
With a nod to Aristophanes' Lysistrata, the film's undercurrent is its sly look at the battle for equality between the sexes, as it explains in its preamble: "This story is dedicated to women - who have been fighting for their rights ever since Adam and Eve started the loose-leaf system."
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