Monday, July 17, 2006

Have A Chew On Me: Other Men's Women (1931)

The things you find on TCM at 8 in the morning. Today it was a William Wellman pre-code wonder called Other Men's Women (1931), starring Grant Withers, Regis Toomey, Mary Astor, James Cagney (!), and Joan Blondell (!!). Withers is a drunken cad of a fellow and Toomey is his sober wedded pal. Great scene! Withers runs into a cafe, slaps the waitress on the ass, and orders up breakfast. He keeps counting the train cars as they go by, for no apparent reason. He needles the waitress at her interest in him. And before he takes a bite, he flips her a coin and starts running after the train as it passes, because, as we soon discover, he works on it as an engineer! And of course he was counting the cars to determine when to start chasing. Ah, a perfectly contructed scene. He also short-changes the waitress, and after she complains, throws her a pack of gum and says "Have a chew on me." This is his catch phrase - and seems to foreshadow those Mentos commercials that follow 60 years later.

Did I mention that Joan Blondell was in it? Anyway, she's a quick-mouthed waitress working in a cafe, and an ungentlemenly rogue asks her to go out for a night on the town. She responds with, "I'm an A.P.O". When asked what that means she replies, insouciantly, "Ain't Puttin' Out." I love Joan Blondell.

There are also scenes where a man pokes holes in the soil to place seeds in with his peg leg, and a number of delectable tracking shots that were completely unexpected considering how early in the sound period this was. It also explodes into a full-blown melodrama because of a meek little kiss, and peaks with a blinded Toomey driving a train over a flooded bridge to his inevitable doom. Quality miniature work there.

Oh, and I'm completely in love with Joan Blondell.



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