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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is the charming little story of a small Irish girl with a big
accent who travels to New York with her dog to join her mother. On the
ship, she meets Rita Hayworth. After they dock, she is told that her
mother is sick, and detained. She escapes from the immigration
officials on a milk truck leaving Ellis Island, and makes her way to
the mansion where her mother is a servant. However, once she arrives,
she learns the terrible news that her mother is dead. She has no other
place to go and no relatives back in Ireland, so the kindhearted
servants decide to hide her at the risk of losing their jobs and being
criminally prosecuted for harboring an alien fugitive. The other
residents of the house are a young, bookish, scatterbrained man (Pinky
Tomlin) and his two, crabby, domineering aunts. The little girl
accidentally encounters the man, and they become friends. Eventually
she reunites with Rita Hayworth, who Pinky Tomlin falls in love with.
His new influences lead to rebellion against his aunts, and with his
financial support, Rita Hayworth's brother is able to open a nightclub.
All this is interspersed with occasional musical numbers, mainly sung
by little miss Paddy.
This movie was made WAY before my time, but I'm guessing it was an attempt to cash in on the Shirley Temple phenomenon. It looked like the voices were entirely dubbed over, which I found interesting. I watched it through mainly just to gaze upon the beauty of Rita Hayworth, but also because I was a bit transfixed by Jane Withers. She was adorable. She was precocious. She also had that "so-cute-you-wanna-strangle-'em" quality that cynics will probably find unbearably annoying to watch. However, she was a good actress. I found the scene where she learns her mother is dead to be genuinely sad. Her final song and dance number in the movie is probably the cutest (or most annoying?) part.
PADDY O'DAY (Fox Films, 1935), directed by Lewis Seiler, stars Jane
Withers in the title role of Paddy O'Day. And who is Paddy O'Day? A
charming, likable little immigrant girl with talent for singing,
dancing, and winning the hearts of those around her. And who's Jane
Withers? The same as described in character, with the exception of
being a little immigrant. Before becoming best known as Josephine the
Plumber in the Comet TV commercials of the 1960s and 70s, Withers was
another child star of the 1930s whose movie career began about the same
time as the studio's own top star, Shirley Temple. In fact, the two
teamed together in BRIGHT EYES (1934) with Temple in the lead while
Withers nearly steals the attention away away from little Shirley where
Jane's the honorary brat making life miserable to those around her,
namely Shirley. Going professionally their separate ways, and based on
the performance of BRIGHT EYES, Withers earned her own assortment of
likable little films mostly in the Temple formula such as this.
Comparing both films, it's hard to believe how the excessively mean
child from BRIGHT EYES can be the same charmingly sweet child in PADDY
O'DAY, each showing off the true talent of little Jane Withers.
The story begins on a ship from Europe where Paddy O'Day (Jane Withers), a little Irish girl traveling in third class alone with her dog bound for America to be with her mother working as a cook in home of the Ford family in Salvin, Long Island. While on board, she befriends and is looked after by Tamara Petrovitch (Rita Cansino) and her Russian relatives. Upon their arrival on Ellis Isand, Benton (Russell Simpson), the Ford butler, notifies Tom McGuire (Francis Ford), an immigration officer, of the recent passing of Paddy O'Day's mother. Because there's no living relative in America to care for Paddy, it is so ordered by officials for the child to be returned home to Ireland. Not being told of the circumstances, Paddy, only knowing her dear mother to be sick, manages to sneak away from officials, hiding on board the Manhattan Dairy Product truck, ending up somewhere in a tenement district in Manhattan. After some run-ins with troublesome boys, Paddy is assisted by a fellow Irish policeman (Russ Clark) who arranges a journey to her destination to the Ford estate. Once there, she encounters the non-smiling Benton, Dora (Jane Darwell), the kind-hearted housekeeper who tells her the sad news; Roy (Pinky Tomlin), a bird fancier who recently acquired a European woodcock known as the Solopax Rusticola, and Roy's two matronly aunts, Flora (Vera Lewis) and Jane (Louise Carter), who's rather have the child turned over to the authorities rather than take the responsibility in raising this child.
Not quite an original premise but an audience pleaser none-the-less. The idea of an immigrant child loose in New York was already put to use in MY BOY (First National, 1922) starring little Jackie Coogan. Though the plot for PADDY O'DAY was not taken from MY BOY and retitled MY GIRL, portions of it was, in fact, lifted more from Fox Film's earlier musical titled DELICIOUS (Fox, 1931) starring Janet Gaynor as the youthful Scottish immigrant avoiding deportation from authorities, with Charles Farrell playing the engaged American millionaire who becomes interested in her. Co-stars Raul Roulien and Manya Roberti assume the roles of Gaynor's Russian friends, no different from the roles enacted here by Rita Cansino and George Davis. With DELICIOUS scored by George and Ira Gershwin, PADDY O'DAY features new ones by Harry Akst and Troy Sanders: "There'a a Twinkle in Your Eye" (sung by Jane Withers); "There's a Twinkle in Your Eye" (reprised by Withers while sleeping); "Russian Lullaby" (sung by Rita Cansino); "I Like a Balalaika" (sung by Withers); "Changing My Ambitions" (written and sung by Pinky Tomlin); and "There's a Twinkle in Your Eye" (reprised by Withers). The "Twinkle" song comes off best, sung by Withers in her very convincing Irish brogue. The "Balalaika" number, a somewhat weak moment, has Withers seen in outlandish eye-lashes and circular spots on her cheeks, quite similar to Gaynor's make-up in the musical portion from DELICIOUS.
With Pinky Tomlin (whose physical resemblance comes as a reminder of future band-leader, Kay Kyser) and George Davis (with broken Russian/ English dialect) individually playing their roles for sake of humor, the center of attention falls mainly on the female leads from moon-faced Withers to the youthful Rita Casino (the future Rita Hayworth).
While PADDY O'DAY starts off well, it loses something in the translation towards the end. Thanks to Jane Withers, she makes this worth sitting though its 77 minutes (with two minute extra of overture closing music after the end cast credits). As much as there's plenty of Jane Withers movies from the 20th-Fox library (1934-1942) to go around, her feature films are as rare today as Shirley Temple movies are readily available. PADDY O'DAY, however, an appropriate movie for St. Patrick's Day (March 17th), did eventually come out of mothballs when broadcast June 27, 2012, on Turner Classic Movies cable channel as part of its evening theme, "The Immigrant Experience - The Lighter Side," that also included DELICIOUS as part of its line-up. This revival of PADDY O'DAY on TCM is certainly satisfactory enough to "keep a twinkle in your eye." (**1/2 shamrocks)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I found this a charming and engaging little movie. I mostly remember Jane Withers from her Josephine the Plumber commercials so it was nice seeing one of her movies as a further reminder of what a talented child actress she was. I like the ethnicity of the movie and found Jane's Irish accent believable and her demeanor and positive outlook refreshing. Is it likely that a poor Irish girl manages to smuggle her beloved dog across the Atlantic, sneaks out of Ellis Island and upon learning that her dear mother has died then becomes befriended and hidden from the immigration authorities by the household servants? Further that the befuddled young man who owns the mansion where her mother worked becomes her friend and then falls in love with the little girl's shipboard friend and then is adopted by them? Not likely. Sure this movie is sentimental and doesn't reflect the way the world really is (or was) and Jane Withers as Paddy O'Day is cute and sweet and just so very optimistic and all the people around her try to help her - it makes one wonder where such a fantasy world is. But it is a nice place to visit and this is a wonderful family film that both children and adults can enjoy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Fresh from being the bratty little girl who spanked her own doll and
was mean to Shirley Temple, Jane Withers became the newest child star
bringing joy to depression era movie audiences. She didn't remain nasty
for long, becoming a lot sweeter, if still feisty, as a series of "Miss
Fix It" style characters who brought happiness to the adults around
her. She's a little Irish girl coming over to America in third class,
and befriends Russian immigrant Rita Cansino (later Hayworth), and
makes her fellow steerage passengers very happy with a little song and
dance. Even the ship's captain is touched by her performance,
overlooking the fact that she's smuggled a dog on board. But tragedy is
in store for this lively little girl who discovers that her mother
(working as a maid in New York) has passed away and she is being
returned to Ireland. With the spinster owners of the household away,
the butler and housekeeper take her in, and shy Pinky Tomlin (nephew of
the two rigid aunts) makes plans to adopt her, falling in love with
lovely Rita who shows up at the house in desperation to find her.
While the songs aren't really necessary in this sentimental tale, they don't take away from the charm of the film's sweetness. Withers, who seems to sound more Scottish than Irish, is endearing, and she is surrounded by a fine cast of character performers, from Jane Darwell as the loving housekeeper who comforts her after she learns the truth about her mother to Vera Lewis and Louise Carter as the stuffy aunts. George Givot goes overboard as Hayworth's bombastic brother. The yet still unknown Hayworth is certainly lovely enough to warrant further attention, but her pairing with Tomlin is rather odd.
Of the musical numbers, only "Keep That Twinkle in Your Eye" (Withers' shipboard number) is even remotely memorable, with the finale "Balalaika" production number embarrassingly maudlin. You do for one of the few times in her career get to hear Rita actually sing, and while her voice is rather high pitched, it isn't too bad. There are a few moments which bring on the emotions, yet it never feels forced or manipulated. Unlike Temple, Withers would change with each character, whether in looks or personality, and I think this makes her the better actor of the two. It's no wonder that during this time, she briefly made an appearance on the list of top 10 box office attractions, as she seems more realistic and less cloying. Unfortunately, her films were difficult to find for years, but are now available through the Fox Classics collection for the world to rediscover.
"Paddy O'Day" is an enjoyable Jane Withers film from MGM. However, I
could see folks today thinking this is a bit too old fashioned and
schmaltzy--but I don't mind old fashioned and schmaltzy!
The film begins as a ship from Europe is about to dock at Ellis Island. A young girl, Paddy (Withers) is excited as she'll soon see her mother. However, unknown to Paddy, her mother had recently died! However, the immigration officers didn't tell her that--they told her that her mother was very sick. So, while awaiting deportation back to her native Ireland, Paddy sneaks off in search of her mother.
The trail leads to a mansion where a nerdy ornithologist and his dried up old aunts live. However, instead of returning her to Ellis Island, the servants like the child and hide her. Later, after the grouchy aunts leave, she is discovered by the nerdy Mr. Ford--and he takes an instant liking for the girl.
What's next? Well, see the film--and see this adorable child as well as a very young Rita Cansino (later, given a huge makeover and rechristened Rita Hayworth). My only complaint about this cute film is that it has a few songs too many. Still, clever writing and a really nice job by Jane and Pinky Tomlin (as Mr. Ford) make this one well worth seeing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Jane Withers and her wee doggy arrive at Ellis Island from the Old Sod.
Begorrah, if she isn't going to live with her dear old Mommy in New
York. But, Saints preserve us, she learns that her dear mother was
taken ill. "Ahh, me mother's sick and she NEEDS me," chirps Withers and
promptly escapes from the immigrations officers and tries to find her
Mommie -- too late! "Patty, dear, Oi have something to tell ye," says
Ur-Mother Jane Darwell.
Withers becomes an entertainer, and you ought to hear her sing, "With a Twinkle In Your Eye" in the lilting inflections that regurgitate -- I mean resuscitate -- images and memories of the Emerald Isle. (PS: That's Ireland.) Ah, but there's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip. Doesn't her dog get captured by the hard-hearted dog catcher?
I'm after telling you that if you can sit through this almost unbearably sentimental and impossibly clichéd and pandering flick, sure and you're the kind of person that would welcome a session with the orthodontist and I'll not be holding it against you. Each man to his own taste, I say. That's me motto. If only the Irish stew weren't a bit off for being a week and a half on the stove. And the gravy so clotted you could trot a mouse on it. The Borgias could do better.
Also in movie is beautiful girl, Rita Hayworth, call by name Tamara Petrovitch, so viewer know is goink to be Russian family with at least one relative who mangle English language until is only barely interpretatabilifull. Uncle Mischa run restaurant where specialty of house beink borscht wit E. coli sauce and full plate stereotype. In 1935 is not so much Nev York Russian. Today is Brighton Beach full.
I don't know whatever happened to good old-fashioned family movies like this one, "The Bluebells of Scotland," "Lassie Come Home," and "Andy Hardy Discovers His Fist." Where did it all go?
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