6 July 2019 | boblipton
My First Reaction
Fireman Stu Erwin and policeman Jack Carson both want to marry Una Merkel. Miss Merkel, however, thinks she is not so much choosing a second husband as a father for her daughter, Baby Sandy. So she's leaving the decision to the two-year-old.
My first reaction was carefully thought over and refined to "Ick." This is not to denigrate Miss Alexandra Lee Henville, who is still around and well past her 81st birthday. I'm sure she had no hand in writing or producing or even casting this movie beyond being dragged in by her parents. That decision was made by a bunch of producers who thought they might promote a second Shirley Temple or Baby Peggy. And so, my first reaction is an honest and heartfelt one. Ick.
However, the story is more complicated than that, because Miss Merkel is the daughter of councilman William B. Davis, who has to decide how to split a quarter of a million dollars between the fire department, run by Fire Chief Edgar Kennedy and the police department, run by William Frawley. As a result, Baby Sandy -- ick -- becomes a Maguffin who keeps getting lost and having to be found by an expert company of adult comedians, many of whom are performing at the top of their game, because not only do they risk being Second Banana to Baby Sandy -- ick -- but third banana to each other. None of them are going to let that happen. Neither are the people behind the camera, who set up some carefully planned and beautifully executed farce sequences such as the one that opens the movie, or a later one during which Mr. Kennedy does a slow burn. Mr. Frawley starts to do one too, but Kennedy stops him. "So only the fire chief can burn?"
There's a thrill ending involving a fire in which Maguffin Sandy is trapped in a blazing building, wandering around oblivious to the smoke and noise, because it is obviously shot in front projection. So for the set-up, the scenes like that, and not letting Una Merkel having any comedy bits, my reaction remains. Ick. But the comedy sequences are top drawer.