To share expenses unemployed Alabama move in with also unemployed Bill and Toodles. Bill is hired by a gangster's mistress and ultimately becomes the gangster's bodyguard. Alabama ...
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To share expenses unemployed Alabama move in with also unemployed Bill and Toodles. Bill is hired by a gangster's mistress and ultimately becomes the gangster's bodyguard. Alabama unknowingly applies for a stenographer's job at Mr. Weber's (the gangster's) business. Bill is forced to fly a plane carrying narcotics into the U.S. but fights back.Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
... but there is just about every precode device under the sun included. Bill Keller (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) and Toodles Cooper (Frank McHugh) are Marine pilots in Nicaragua, and when they are finished with one particular mission get drunk, go AWOL, and soon thereafter their term of service ends. It's not explained how they managed the assumed honorable discharges, but then I don't know what the U.S. was doing in Nicaragua in 1933 either. They then answer an ad for pilots in the paper, only to find that the company has gone bust. They can't find jobs of any type anywhere. They do have a roof over their head for now, but sitting on a park bench they meet Alabama (Bette Davis) a homeless and hungry out of work stenographer. Bill asks Alabama to share their quarters with them, strictly on the up and up. She can tidy up the place in return for a place to stay.
Here is where one of the big myths of this film come in. I've heard and even read people say that Alabama and Bill are sleeping in the same bed, with his feet where her head is and vice versa. Not even in the precode era could they get away with that. It is Toodles and Bill who are sleeping in that position in the same bed. Alabama is on the couch.
In their quest for survival Bill does do one stunt wing-walking parachute jump, lands on the train tracks and almost gets hit by a train. The trio also encounter a gun moll (Claire Dodd) who passes herself off as Park Avenue high society with a taste for good looking chauffeurs (Bill) and in a case of unfortunate timing, the jealous gangster behind the moll. He catches his girl and Bill in an embrace. Instead of killing him, which the gangster intended to do, he winds up hiring Bill as a bodyguard and to do some rum running across the Canadian border.
The film is basically about how the little people survived the Depression with a bunch of gangsters and thrills thrown in for good measure. Don't really look for a big dose of Bette Davis in this one, this is mainly Fairbanks' film.
When first hired by the gangster, Bill is asked if he is afraid of the law. Bill replies "The law we all laugh at?". Bill, like many hungry people laugh at the law that does not protect them from starving in the 30's, and he doesn't mind running liquor or using a gun to protect the gangster, but he differentiates between that and narcotics (he thought it was liquor he was running) and setting up people to be shot down execution style with it being made to look like self defense. In other words, Bill finds that the law is one thing, but his own conscience is quite another.
When the gangster decides to set Bill up to take a fall for his syndicate, will Bill find a way out? If so how? Watch and find out.
Nothing really special happens in this film, it is just more fun unique entertainment Depression era style in a way that only Warner Brothers managed to be able to do it. It also showcased three people whose circumstances Depression audiences could relate to, if not their rather thrilling adventures. The idea is that Alabama, Bill, and Toodles may be down, but they are not out.
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