Monday, September 9, 2013

Sadie McKee (1934)

“I'm kind of sick of men.”
“Oh, you're crazy. They've got what we want, all of it. And every gal has her price. Yours ought to be high.”

            Sadie McKee is the name of a woman who did everything in this film out of concern for the men she loved. She knew what was right and what was wrong. Her heart was often broken by the men she loved but she never gave up on them.
            Sadie (Joan Crawford) grew up in the Alderson house. Her mother is the cook for the rich family. Growing up Sadie was best friends with the Alderson Michael (Franchot Tone). Michael returns home for the first time in two years and Sadie comes home to help her mother since there are extra guests at the house to welcome Michael home. Normally Sadie works in a shop.
            Sadie and Michael’s friend Tommy Wallace is in trouble again. Michael wants Tommy to go to jail instead of his father giving Tommy a job. Sadie gets mad at Michael and says something about the situation in front of the other guests. Tommy leaves for New York City and tells Sadie he will call for her once he gets there. She is so upset at him leaving without her she gets on the train to the city with him. At the train station they meet someone that knows where they can rent rooms. At the boarding house their neighbor is a woman named Dolly Merrick. Dolly is a performer in a show. She hears Tommy singing and playing his ukulele and tells him she can get him a spot in the show. Tommy was supposed to meet Sadie at the courthouse to get married. He never shows and she does not hear from him.
            Sadie gets a job dancing at a night club. One night Michael goes there with his boss Jack Brennan (Edward Arnold). Jack wants to see Sadie again. She walks over to the table and she sees Michael. They talk about what has happened since she left the night of the party. Michael tries to get Sadie away from Jack but it is too late they are all stuck at the night club until very early in the morning. Jack brings Sadie and Michael back to his place. He is completely drunk and keeps asking Sadie to marry him. Michael is furious with her for thinking about marrying him just for his money. She does marry Jack and on that day he buys her clothes and a ring. He is completely unaware of what is going on. At the end of the day they both go back to the house drunk.
            Tommy’s act with Dolly is very successful. Sadie keeps track of him in Variety and goes to see one of his shows. He sees her in the crowd from the balcony where he performs and he sings to her. When Sadie arrives home Michael is there with a doctor. The doctor says that the way Jack keeps drinking he will be dead within six months. The problem is Jack has been everywhere to try to sober up in the past and nothing has worked. Sadie really does love him and wants to help Jack. She wants Michael to help him as well but he does not want to. Sadie takes thinking into her own hands. Michael thinks Sadie is going to kill Jack and take his money and run off somewhere with Tommy. The next morning she finds a bottle the butler Finnegan brought up to Jack. Sadie is furious with him and fires him. Finnegan calls Michael to come over. She overhears Finnegan call her a tramp to the other servants and fires them all. She tells them all she wants to do is help Jack she does not want him to die so she can get his money she does not care about the money. Jack comes out of his room and falls down the stairs hurting his neck.
            After some time Jack is much better and sober. They go out to a night club where Dolly happens to be performing. Sadie notices Tommy is no longer with her. Dolly has no idea where Tommy is she dumped him in New Orleans. Jack had planned on taking Sadie to Europe. Now that Tommy cannot be found she does not want to go. She tells her husband about Tommy and how she still loves him. She still loves Jack and he knows that but he also knows that Sadie loves Tommy more. He offers to help her.
            Michael finds a very sick Tommy in a bar. He tells his friend that Sadie still loves him. Tommy is brought to a hospital and is not doing well at all. With Sadie and Michael by his side Tommy dies.
            A few months later Sadie has a job and her own apartment and her mother living with her. Michael comes over often for visits.
            The cast was very good. This was my favorite performance of Joan Crawford’s I have seen so far. Sadie was a strong, emotional, good willed person and Crawford did a great job balancing all those characteristics. Poor Franchot Tone, it seems like he never gets the girl in the films I have seen him in so far. I would have rather to have seen him in Gene Raymond’s role where he gets the girl’s love and affection. Gene Raymond was alright he does nothing for me as an actor. He does his own singing and he sings “All I Do is Dream of You”. Yes, it is one of the songs from Singin’ in the Rain. I love this version of the song Raymond sounds fantastic. Edward Arnold actually plays a nice guy. In the films I have seen him in he is always playing a mean person. His character was a nice man. Arnold played the part so well you could see that Jack really loved Sadie.
            Sadie McKee was a typical 1930s drama. The story was decent but boring. It was nice to see the issue of alcoholism taken seriously rather than it being used as a comedic device. Sadie McKee is available on DVD in a pack of Joan Crawford’s films. It is not available on Youtube. I caught the film when it was on TCM some time ago.