The Public Menace
- 1h 12min
Non-citizen Arthur marries reporter Murphy for a bogus gangster's confession. A divorce is needed, and Murphy is fired. The gangster wants her to be his girlfriend, the police are outside, a... Read allNon-citizen Arthur marries reporter Murphy for a bogus gangster's confession. A divorce is needed, and Murphy is fired. The gangster wants her to be his girlfriend, the police are outside, and only one who can save her is Murphy.Non-citizen Arthur marries reporter Murphy for a bogus gangster's confession. A divorce is needed, and Murphy is fired. The gangster wants her to be his girlfriend, the police are outside, and only one who can save her is Murphy.
Unfortunately, too much is missing from "Public Menace" to make it a notable or even very enjoyable film. And, it's not the craziness of the plot. Far out plots often can be very good vehicles for great comedy. In this case, the goofy plot might have been OK if it had a great script. But, the script here is terribly weak. How many times do we have to see Red Foster (played by George Murphy), knock on doors trying to sell newspaper subscriptions? No belly laughs there. Not even a chuckle the first time. It drags at times to near boredom.
Combine the poor script with a bad match of a co-star, and a film is sure to flop - or founder, at best. I don't know if Murphy was a wrong match or if it was just a very lackluster performance of a poorly written role. But Jean Arthur as Cassie Nicholls can't raise this film to more than a fizzle. Had her part been better written, it would have helped tremendously.
The screenplay is devoid of witty lines and clever humor. There are no funny scenes. What is there for one to laugh at in this supposed comedy? I noticed only one witty comment in all of this film's dialog. The news editor is yelling out orders to his reporter pool, and one guy says something. The editor gets a dig in at the prominent gossip columnist Walter Winchell when he says "I don't want a Winchell."
I did see one thing that caught my interest that I don't recall ever having seen in a movie before. Murphy's character in on board a cabin cruiser with a flag flying from it that reads "PRESS." The boat is sailing out to meet the inbound Lancaster passenger ship. The several reporters step from the deck of their press boat into a supply door of the ship.
This is not one of Arthur's good films, and it's far from some of her great comedy smashes. Nor is it a good film for George Murphy. Sometimes, the reason so few people may have seen a film before is because it's not that good. Sometimes the reason a film may only rarely be shown on late night TV is because it's not very good. I can understand why this movie is not well known.
This is an early Columbia Pictures film that has the original, very crude Columbia logo at the start. The only lines written for laughs are over Arthur's job as the manicurist, and they won't give most even a chuckle. She plays Cassie Nicholls and Douglass Dumbrille plays Mario Tonelli.
Mario Tonelli, "You know, beauty and brains don't usually go together." Cassie Nicholls, "Well, you have to know how to pick your parents."
Mario Tonelli, "That's a pretty good job, too. You only nicked me a couple of times." Cassie Nicholls, "I always brand my clients, so they won't forget me."
Mario Tonelli, "A lot of things have happened since the last time you gave my nails the once over, sister." Cassie Nicholls, "Did you like the way I did them?" Tonelli, "Well, the scars have all healed. Give 'em another whirl, will ya?" Cassie, "Sure. I'll try not to nick you this time."
- Jul 11, 2015