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  • tedg10 October 2006
    Another sweet spot movie.

    If you rattle around old movies, you'll certainly spend some time in the early 30s because the experiments from that era are so fresh and novel. And you'll want to be in that area before the code clamped down on how women are allowed in movies.

    So you probably will wander over to these sexual comedies where women worked in territory usually reserved for men. And of course what you see is pratfalls and embarrassment. But because these are women its often sexual humor. Here its about being undressed in public.

    I'm a fan of sorts of Zasu Pitts, an Olive Oyl type. because this is thin comedy, its not something to ask you to seek out to watch. Its short and silly, not much funnier than your typical "Our Gang" episode. But if you are in the neighborhood and can have a gander at this, its pretty interesting how sexual embarrassment is handled.

    Our two women are dress models, which gives us a chance early in the thing to see women in underwear and night things. There are a few comic encounters with mechanical and manufactured things. But the real setup is for our girls at a posh party in purloined dresses. Zasu first has her underwear removed by a drunk pulling on a thread until it is all pulled out. Then she has the back of her dress ripped off. And finally her comrade accidentally sews drapery onto her back in an attempt to repair. So there can be a mix of ordinary pratfall and sexual embarrassment.

    Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
  • This movie is full of laughs from start to finish. I have never seen fashion models on a conveyor belt before, which alone was interesting. But you can only imagine the antics that ZaSu Pitts and Thelma Todd get up to on it.

    I would have rated it 8/10 except that, like a lot of these shorts, it has a very unsatisfying ending. Nothing is resolved -- they basically just go off into the sunset. I have noticed this in a lot of Three Stooges shorts as well. They run off, or drive off, and the movie just ends.

    It makes me wonder if they suffered from the problems I heard about Saturday Night Live: that they never knew how to wrap up a skit.

    In spite of this, Maids A La Mode is well worth the eighteen minutes it takes to view.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The film begins with the ladies working at a fashionable clothing boutique. Naturally Thelma is a model and Zasu is a seamstress. In a horribly contrived and difficult to believe scene, an automated runway ramp(?!?) begins misbehaving and their boss (Billy Gilbert) inexplicably fires them! Almost as inexplicable is when he then re-hires them only moments later and asks them to deliver some dresses. Instead, however, they wear the dresses to a swanky party...and soon Gilbert arrives as well! This is capped off by Zasu doing some ridiculously stupid swinging from a rope...and that is how this hopeless comedy ends--with a pointless bit of slapstick that made the film end on a very low note indeed! This is a bad film, as it isn't funny--something disastrous for a comedy!! Not once did I laugh or even smile during this sad film and in many ways it played like watching a Three Stooges film but without the laughs....none. No subtlety either, for that matter.
  • Maids a la Mode (1933)

    * 1/2 (out of 4)

    A seamstress (Zasu Pitts) and her model buddy (Thelma Todd) are fired by their boss (Billy Gilbert) after a fashion show goes horribly wrong. The two decide to take a couple of his dresses and go to a party but soon they're shocked to see the boss there as well. I've seen eight or nine of these Todd-Pitts shorts and I'm clearly not a fan. They seem to range from fair to bad and this one here is one of the weakest and I'm still not sure if anyone was even attempting to make this thing funny. The entire opening bit with the girls messing up the show was just one bad joke after another. The timing of all of this was so off that you couldn't help but wonder what everyone was doing and there's a shot of Gilbert falling on some pins where the "edit" is so obvious that you can't help but roll your eyes because the likes of Georges Melies was doing more impressive stuff thirty-years earlier than what's on display here. The party sequence is just as weak because once again we get no laughs and the entire running jokes of Pitts dress coming apart just isn't funny. Once again Pitts and Todd have no chemistry together and by the end I couldn't wait for this one to be over.