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William A. Wellman
Douglas Fairbanks Jr.,
Los Angeles newspaper reporter Toby Prentiss is continually in trouble with his editor. He is demoted to running the paper's "Miss Lonelyhearts" advice column because he missed the scoop on a major earthquake whilst out on the town. Determined to be fired from the column he starts to give crazy advice to the readers, but this only makes him even more popular. Written by
Col Needham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Nathanael West's "Miss Lonelyhearts" couldn't have been published at a worse time. A month after the book's publication, in 1933, the publishing firm of Liveright Inc. went into receivership and a month later all the banks in the United States were closed by presidential order. The book would have found it hard to find success anyway, with a scathing attack on it by "Harrison's Reports" which called it "vile and vulgar and would please only moronic natures"!!! But before that came out Darryl F. Zanuck bought the story for $4,000 for his new 20th Century Pictures. What they were really interested in was West's highly original story about the private life of a newspaperman assigned to answer letters for a lonely hearts column. Fortunately it was made (in 1933) before the industry bought in the self regulating censorship laws and what emerged was a snappy comedy ideally fitted to the sizzling talents of Lee Tracy who was enjoying his busiest year!!
This is a super little film. Tracy plays Toby Prentiss, a wise cracking columnist assigned to the Lonely Hearts page (under great protest) when the regular writer takes leave to get married. As "Miss Lonely Hearts" he turns the column on it's ear and of course law suits pile up (sort of like "Blessed Event"). His advice to most of the letter writers being - "take your happiness while you can, who cares how you get it"!! Suddenly he is a celebrity with books and perfume named in his honour. One of the people who fall by the wayside is his long suffering girl Louise (pretty Sally Blane), she, in turn, turns her attention to Adolphe, a worker at her father's garage but as Toby comments "There never was an Adolphe in history that wasn't anything but a menace"!!!
The story turns quite dramatic when Toby's mother dies, the victim of a cut price drug store. Kramm (C. Henry Gordon) of Kramm's Cut Price Drug Stores had been paying Toby over $1,000 a week to promote his stores in the lovelorn column - as well as giving Toby advice on answering Rose's letters, a girl he wishes to make his mistress. Feisty Isabel Jewel makes a welcome appearance (playing almost the same type of role as she did in "Blessed Event") playing Rose, who bursts into Toby's apartment with an emotional punchy "thanks to your advice my life is in ruins" speech. Once she realises what is happening she hysterically (as only Isabel Jewel can) cries that Kramm, while being a cut price druggist uses only inferior ingredients and ends with the chilling "You killed your own mother".
This is Lee Tracy's movie all the way - "I've got an idea for a column that will make Walter Winchell look like the kid who writes on fences"!!!! Sally Blane didn't have much to do but look lovingly on. She was Loretta Young's sister who was almost her twin in the beauty department. Sterling Holloway played his goofy but loyal offsider.
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