The teaming of Mae West and W.C. Fields in this Wild West comedy might not have resulted in quite the great movie that was hoped for — certainly, it did nothing to endear its stars to each other — but My Little Chickadee (1940) still a worthy and very funny outing. In fact, it contains some of the comics’ best material, especially Fields. That the two leads didn’t take to each other much isn’t evident onscreen in the least — and the pairing actually come off better than you might expect. The whole idea is that West’s Flower Belle Lee is in need of a husband to prove her respectability. A lovestruck (or at least sex-struck) Cuthbert J. Twillie (Fields) proves just the ticket, especially when West mistakenly believes he has a satchel full of money and there’s a gambler (Donald Meek) on hand to pose as a minister. She, of course, has no intention of consumating the marriage (“Don’t worry, honey, he’ll never cross my threshold,” she tells her masked bandit boyfriend). Twillie, of course, is determined to do just that. That’s only a part of the film’s story, but since it’s the only part that really brings the duo together onscreen, it’s probably the most significant. While West’s character gets the better of Fields’ character, he comes off better comedically. By 1940, the censors had pretty well clamped down on West (it’s amazing she got the “threshold” line past them) and her material suffered for it. That said, her delivery of almost any line could make it suggestive. It may not be a truly great picture, but any movie that finds Fields in bed with a goat is an essential. Plus, West gets a pretty good song in the bargain.
Before you comment
The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.