Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel

My Dear Miss Aldrich (1937)

Directed by George B. Seitz. Story & script, Herman J. Mankiewicz. Cast: Edna May Oliver, Maureen O'Sullivan , Walter Pidgeon, et al. Photography, Charles Lawton Jr. Editing, William S. Gray. Art direction, Cedric Gibbons. An MGM film. Black & white. 73 minutes.

Director Seitz (1888-1944) made well over 100 pictures, notably 12 Andy Hardy ones. I cannot compare his non-Hardy films with this one as only "The Last of the Mohicans" (1936) survives in my memory.

Here, a mogul, the owner of New York City's biggest paper, suddenly dies - intestate. So the business goes to the deceased's only living relative. She lives in Nebraska --which for most New Yorkers is a Nowhere State-specifically in Butte which is practically in Canada. Pretty Maureen O'Sullivan (Miss Aldrich) is a schoolteacher, seems to very well balanced, likes her profession. She shared her house with a crotchety/colorful aunt played by the wonderful Edna May Oliver.

The two women travel to New York, where the newspaper's managing editor is played by Walter Pidgeon. He is shocked that now a woman (A Woman!!!) owns the paper, and what's worse, a woman who is a true feminist , is after women's rights and equality, and wants to learn journalism by becoming a mere reporter.

She turns out to be a first-rate, instinctive reporter, and scoops everyone else in an interview of a visiting Queen who is expecting her first baby. Unfortunately, all this is handled awkwardly and simplistically.

Still, it is agreeable stuff, and enhanced by Edna May Oliver. But while OK though belabored from the early footage on, later it plunges Miss O'Sullivan into forced, increasingly silly situations (in the sense of badly written and staged) patched in boringly.

The story, natch, telegraphs right away that Mr. Pidgeon, conveniently a bachelor, will fall in love with Miss O'Sullivan. He is what would later be called a sexist pig (with the emphasis on "sexist") but Miss Aldrich will change all that.

The lovely Irish Maureen had made some films in Hollywood before her first claim to fame in "Tarzan the Ape Man," the first Tarzan with Johnny Weissmuller in the title role. She played Jane ("Me Tarzan, You Jane") and continued as Mrs. Tarzan in subsequent pics in the series. In real life she became the wife of John Farrow, the Australia-born Hollywood director, with whom she had seven children, including Mia Farrow.

The dozes of movies she was in are a mixed bag, yet she invriably turned out to be a charmer. "My Dear Miss Aldrich" is one of her weaker vehicles. This also goes for Walter Pidgeon.

If anything, this movie could be included in a list of women's lib titles, vintage 1930s.

Copyright © Edwin Jahiel

Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel