My Little Chickadee (1940)

 Run Time: 83 min. | b/w
Director: Edward F. Cline
Stars: Mae West, W.C. Fields, Joseph Calleia, Ruth Donnelly
 Genres: Comedy | Western
Storyline
Fields’ and West’s only appearance together, in a film delivering ample laughs. They also write their own dialogue, which helps. Mae’s schoolmarm is priceless!

4 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    August 1, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    You could call it "slapstick" at its best. They don’t make them like W C Fields and Mae West anymore. Is that a good thing? Probably. Any imitations could hardly live up to their special brand of comedy. That episode on the train where they get acquainted — "It is not good for man to be alone" quoth he, from the Bible at that. "Yeah, it’s not much fun for a woman either," says she. "Do you think it possible for us to be alone together?" he asks. "Quite possible," is her reply. Who can resist a smile at that dialog!

    By the way, for one scene how they could get that billy goat to lie down in bed under blankets, I’ll never know! There’s also a scene of a young girl coming into the bar slightly tipsy and I’m sure it’s a young Celeste Holmes but there are no credits to verify this. I wonder if anyone else has noticed this?

    Flower Belle (Mae West) is burning the midnight oil with "The Bandit," who is masked of course. She also encounters a naive editor (Dick Foran) and conquers that territory too to some extent. Well, for Flower Belle it’s all in a day’s work, you might say. Townsfolk are up in arms and intent on finding the Masked Bandit. Along the way they make W C Fields their sheriff but that doesn’t solve anything. Meanwhile down at the saloon…

    This movie with Mae is the one I like best.

  2. IMDBReviewer

    August 1, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    Although My Little Chickadee did not turn out to be the comedy smash of all time, both W.C. Fields and Mae West got in enough of their own shtick to make it worthwhile to see. What I can't figure out is when both were under contract at Paramount earlier in the decade why Adolph Zukor never thought of teaming them.

    Probably because both of them were highly individualized and highly specialized performers. Both wrote their own material, but Mae believed her words were golden as she wrote them and Bill Fields was notorious with the ad-libs, even with a script he wrote.

    Like Dallas in Stagecoach, Mae West as Flower Belle gets kicked out of one town and heads for another town accompanied by one of the Lady's League in the person of Margaret Hamilton. She's been spotted by Hamilton entertaining the mysterious masked bandit as only Mae entertains.

    On the train she meets up with small time con man Cuthbert J. Twillie, a Fields pseudonym if there ever was one. She's convinced she's got a bankroll and she needs a husband to maintain a respectable front. Her gambler friend Donald Meek who looks like a clergyman and remember in Stagecoach Thomas Mitchell originally thought he was one, marries them on the train.

    As a husband Fields is as ardent as Bob Hope was in The Paleface with Jane Russell who also needed to get married out of necessity to a stooge. He's sure willing enough, but Mae's to smart for him as she's got town editor Dick Foran and saloon owner Joseph Calleia panting hot and heavy for her as well.

    My favorite moment is when Mae slips a goat into her bed and Fields gets a big surprise when he thinks he's finally going to score.

    I'd have to say the film's a tie in terms of these two icons trying to top the other. There's plenty enough here to satisfy fans of both Mae and Bill and the many like myself who love both of them.

  3. IMDBReviewer

    August 1, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    Mae West and W. C. Fields were fantastic together, in spite of or their reportedly mutual loathing each other. Fields was at the top of his game here, and Mae West, in spite of her age and build was absolutely lovely. I really must see some of her earlier stuff, before the Hays Office made all films suitable for six-year-bolds. It was a bit incongruous to see Margaret Hamilton in a role here, when she will always be the Wicked Witch of the West. Some memorable lines from West and Fields throughout, and West’s continuous streams of double entendres were a lot of fun. Also cute to see each of them say the other’s signature line to each other at the end.

  4. IMDBReviewer

    August 1, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    I believe that, some time in the 1970's, more than thirty years after MY LITTLE CHICKADEE was made, the term "high concept" was coined. So, starting in the seventies, a lot of movies with sure-fire ideas became the trend. ("What?", someone, circa 1990 might say, "Arnold Schwarzenegger is being teamed with Danny DeVito? Why, that must be hilarious!") So, clearly, somebody thought the idea of W.C. Fields and Mae West sharing the silver screen would work, and MY LITTLE CHICKADEE remains the ultimate example of both the pitfalls and the merits of High Concept movie-making. Fields and West, both iconic figures, were actually so similar that the audience's loyalties are torn. We watch a West picture to observe Mae West turn the tables on men and we watch a Fields picture to watch Fields flout authority. When Fields and West meet and appear to like each other (he wanting sex and she wanting money) we love them both. Fields gets off one of his most memorable lines as he holds her fingers up to his lips and says, "What symmetrical digits.") She, in turn, throws her false submission at him, letting us know between the lines that she's a woman of steel. So far, so good. Their romance is viewed suspiciously by a character actress who is the perfect foil for both of them: Margaret Hamilton, who, of course, played the Wicked Witch of the West the year before in THE WIZARD OF OZ. Fields and West are married aboard the train by West's con-man friend — hence, they are not really being married — and this actor is also the sort of figure who belongs in a movie with either Fields or West. But let's cut to the chase. Both Fields and West have separate moments for the rest of the movie and each of these moments is somewhat minimal. West's scene teaching a classroom of overgrown adolescents seems to be a whitewashing of a bawdy routine from her stage days. It almost makes it. Fields's various encounters with gamblers and a female drunk (who HAS to be Celeste Holm, uncredited, as someone else on this board has noted) are promising, but somehow never really engaging. Thinking about this movie, nevertheless, brings a smile to the face. There are so many little things which, popping into the memory, are funny, that it has to be acknowledged that MY LITTLE CHICKADEE achieved its goal: driving into our minds the idea of the harmony of two comics who'd made audiences howl with laughter in live performance twenty years earlier. It should also be said that the ideal audience for MY LITTLE CHICKADEE is an audience in a darkened movie theatre. Ideally, the year should be the year it was made and the audience should be made up of people who've been anticipating this pairing and would be more than willing to hoot throughout. Has anybody got a time machine?

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