Broadminded (1931)

  • Broadminded (1931)Director: Mervyn LeRoy
  • Writers: Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby
  • Actors: Joe E. Brown, Ona Munson, William Collier Jr.
  • Studio: First National Pictures

The pun title lets you know that this fun pre-code First National comedy deals with the pursuit of women. The extremely bizarre opening takes place at a NYC high society party where all the wealthy adult guests dress and act like babies. Ossie (star Joe E. Brown) is an extremely drunk infant. The next day he’s ordered by his rich uncle (Holmes Herbert) to be the guardian of his playboy cousin Jack (William Collier Jr.).

The pair motor west in an American Austin convertible and check into the (actual) Huntington Hotel in Pasadena. Ossie manages to insult and infuriate Pancho (Bela Lugosi) several times bringing the proud South American to the boiling point. Pancho calls Ossie a “fresh punk!” Jack falls for Connie (Ona Munson), but her proper Aunt Polly (Grayce Hampton) strongly disapproves and Ossie makes time with Connie’s cute blonde friend Penny (Marjorie White). Meanwhile, Ossie convinces tall blonde actress Gertie (Thelma Todd) to impersonate Jack’s angry fiancée Mabel (Margaret Livingston), not knowing that Gertie is Pancho’s woman – and that Mabel is on the way.

It all happens in just 65 mins. Also with an Indian, a Chinese gardener and a midget. The print is excellent. Kalmar and Ruby also wrote Duck Soup (1933). This was released the same year as Women of All Nations (PV #31) and The Black Camel (PV #35), both also with Lugosi and White. Todd, also in Monkey Business (1931), died mysteriously in ’35 when she was only 30.

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