Hi, Nellie! (1934)

  • It’s got punctuation in the title! You know I can’t pass that shit up.
  • Directed by Mervyn LeRoy.
  • We immediately find out that we’re not supposed to call Glenda Farrell’s character ‘Ms. Nelson.’ Her coworkers continue to do so, though, as some sort of annoying joke (annoying to her, I mean – not to us).

(We don’t find out until maybe a third of the way through the movie that ‘Nellie Nelson’ is the fictional writer of this newspaper’s romantic advice column, and that Torchy’s been assigned to that post as punishment for falling asleep during an important criminal’s confession, and that’s why she’s annoyed by it. For it to be a funny enough joke for it to serve as the title of the movie, you’d think we’d get an explanation much sooner. But we don’t. Whatever, though.)

(Sorry – Farrell’s character in this is not called Torchy, she is called Gerry. But it’s Glenda Farrell as a sassy newspaper woman! How do we not see her as Torchy?!)

(Last note on this, I swear – in case anyone’s curious: SMART BLONDE, the first of the Torchy Blane movies, came out three years after this, in 1937.)

  • Paul Muni plays Bradshaw (“Brad” for short), the current head writer (managing editor?) on the same newspaper as Torchy. (Goddamn it. I mean Gerry. On the same newspaper as Gerry.)
  • Anyway…Frank J. Canfield (played by no one – he’s just a name) disappears on the same day a bank (which Canfield has known connections to) closes half a million dollars short. Every paper in town links the two events with dramatic headlines, with the exception of Brad’s paper. Brad refuses to do it, because there is no real evidence to support such an accusation, plus Canfield is a good guy (or something). This gets Brad fired, because it makes their paper look like a fool.
  • But – surprise! Based on the terms of his contract, Brad cannot be fired – so instead, the owner of the newspaper (Brad’s boss) reassigns him to ‘Heartthrobs,’ the romantic advice column previously forced on Gerry.
  • Everyone starts calling Brad “Nellie,” and (finally understanding who the fuck Nellie is) we actually kind of laugh a little.
  • Gerry apparently stuck with the Heartthrobs column for 8 months without mentally cracking – Brad only makes it 3 before he snaps & destroys his office, then goes on a bender. Wow, men are so strong.
  • Gerry tells him he “is short on guts,” so he decides to prove her wrong by pouring all of his heart & all of his soul into making the Heartthrobs column more popular than it’s ever been. (Way to go, Brad!)
  • Farrell/Muni have a great dynamic. I wish this movie was more about that, and less about the slightly boring background mystery.
  • Here seems as good a place as any to note that Donald Meek (Durkin) & Ned Sparks (Shammy) are also in this, doing their usual fine jobs as side characters.
  • Crooked Crime Boss Brownell (Robert Barrat)’s crooked assistant is a character named Leo played by Harold Huber. Of course he is. Creative casting there! (Eye roll.)
  • The wrap-up of this movie involves a weepy girl who asks Nellie Nelson to help repair her engagement to a boy who runs a flower shop, who is making deals with the weepy girl’s father, who runs funeral parlor, who is making deals with Brownell, who stole that one bank’s money & killed Frank J. Canfield as a cover up.

Real straightforward.

Ha.

  • Predictably, Brad is the hero & discovers all of this – thanks to Shammy & the Weeper providing him with identical addresses for vastly different purposes. ‘Aha!’ he says. ‘Everything’s linked!’

Big shocker there.

  • During the wrap-up, we are taken to The Merry Go Round Club. It is exactly as its name describes – it is a bar/club with a merry-go-round at the center of it. Yes, an actual merry-go-round. Except instead of horses (& other such animals), there’s rounded bar seating. It is as awesome as it sounds. Way to go with that one, filmmakers.
  • Lastly – one of the movie ads (used as the movie’s main IMDb image, actually) implies that this is a movie featuring a romance between Muni & Farrell. It is not, and that is a shame. By that I mean: I didn’t go into watching this movie thinking it was a romance – but the acting chemistry between Farrell & Muni was so solid that they really should have thrown some love-ish moments in there. I think it would enlivened the movie a little bit more, and made it much more memorable. As it stands, it was kind of blah & forgettable. Decent, thanks to Muni & Farrell – but not much more than that.

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