Baby Face Harrington (1935)

Millie (Una Merkel) is a wannabe socialite married to Willie (Charles Butterworth), a man who hasn’t quite given her the lavish life she’s always wanted. Inspired by a newspaper story about the money-grabbing crimes of Rocky Bannister, Millie urges Willie to ask for a raise the next time he sees his boss. Reluctantly, to make her happy, he agrees.

But when Willie brings the idea up to his boss, a raise is the exact opposite of what he gets: He’s fired on the spot! Unwilling to let Millie know of his failure, Willie cashes in an insurance policy in order to give money to Millie, and as a result finds himself tangled up in a crime when the money goes missing.

Baby Face Harrington was directed by Raoul Walsh, written for the screen by Nunnally Johnson and Edwin H. Knopf.

(Image via MovieStillsDb)

(Image via MovieStillsDb)

A money-obsessed wife and an unmotivated, misogynistic husband… not exactly the most likable couple to serve as the central focus of a film! I had a hard time caring about either one of these characters or what happened to them, and as a result enjoyed this film very little.

There were moments when I was amused by Baby Face Harrington. “Hollywood Hercules” Nat Pendleton (a buff, intelligent chess champion known for playing “dumb lunk” roles) delivers a pretty funny “tough guy” routine. The police interrogation of Willie, and the gangster’s discovery that Willie is the “Baby Face Harrington” when they get housed in the same jail cell are both highlights of the film.

But the film is mostly just tedious and at times downright annoying, particularly in the first half. Things improve as the picture moves along, but it never becomes great or even what I would classify as good.

I had high hopes for this one due to the involvement of Una and the fun premise. In fact, I usually enjoy the work of many of the folks involved in this one — Una, director Walsh, co-writer Johnson. In the end, however, I didn’t like it very much at all. There are plenty of other crime comedies to satisfy your craving. Avoid this one! The score: 1/5

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