The Amazing Mr. Williams (1939)

Approved   |    |  Comedy, Drama, Mystery


The Amazing Mr. Williams (1939) Poster

Kenny Williams, a lieutenant on the homicide squad, is engaged to Maxine Carroll, the Mayor's secretary. Or isn't he rather married with his job? For each time he has a date with his ... See full summary »

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6.6/10
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7 January 2009 | boundbc
9
| Delightful and surprising minor film, deftly mixing genres and gender roles
Delightful minor film, juggling comedy and detective, romance and drama genres as nimbly as Lt Kenny Williams (Melvyn Douglas) balances his devotion to his girl Maxine Carroll (Joan Blondell) and his duty to the force as an ace detective.

This hodge-podge may not appeal to all viewers today, but in its day, it had something to offer every member of the movie-going family, and the resolution to the rather tired feeling-versus-duty plot is original and refreshing, and well worth the wait.

"The Amazing Mr. Williams" contains what must be among the most outrageous blind dates in film history, and its bright comic repartee sparkles. Ludicrously frocked, Melvyn Douglas delivers some of the best lines: "I'd walk down Main Street in a Turkish towel before I'd let any woman control my life!" And the effervescent Joan Blondell lets her barbs fly with typical aplomb: "Good grief! You look like my Aunt Nellie!'

The crime-solving here is standard fare, although a fine cast of character actors helps bring the material to life.

From today's vantage point, "The Amazing Mr. Williams" is perhaps most interesting for its insightful commentary on gender as a socially defined construct, all the more malleable for its seemingly rigid boundaries. While much of the gender commentary takes place in a superficial battle of the sexes, at times it is both subtle and penetrating, playing out not only in some of the finer details of the film, but in the battle of genres that reaches its culmination in the final scene.

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