Public Deb No. 1 (1940) Poster

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7/10
Taming of the Commie.
mark.waltz24 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
It's up to hostess with the mostess Elsa Maxwell to aide uncle Charlie Ruggles and her two suitors (Ralph Bellamy and George Murphy) in reforming communist Brenda Joyce. The film starts off with a communist march after which Joyce is arrested and creates a scene with judge Berton Churchill. Rivals Bellamy and Murphy have different ideas of how to handle the rebellious Joyce, but it takes just a spanking by Murphy to wake up to her true feelings. This rather oddball screwball comedy has a lavish costume ball with a room full of Abraham Lincoln's and Maxwell hysterically dressed as Benjamin Franklin. Mischa Auer and Maxie Rosenbloom are very funny as two of Joyce's communist servants. Ruggles is very funny in a scene where he tries to conquer a balance beam and some parallel bars. The communist theme is very much a part of the paranoia of the time (pre-war when the commies seemed to be siding with Hitler and Mussolini) and would probably be considered dated within a few years when Russia switched it's loyalties. But for it's performances and entertainment value, it's an amusing remenant of it's time, with Maxwell basically holding court and being just as grand as MGM's late leading doyenne, Marie Dressler.
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