Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Congo Maisie (1940)


“Now who would give a baboon a drum? A missionary?”

            Congo Maisie is the second film in the Maisie series. I did not really know what to expect with this Maisie film because of the title. I was expecting it to be really over the top and silly but it was just the same as the other films I have seen so far in the series- it is the right mix of funny, seriousness, and wittiness.
            In an African town an English inspector is looking for a blonde woman who might be a stowaway on a ship. She was staying at a hotel but she could not pay so she broke out of her room after the owner locked her in and ran away.
            Michael Shane is a rubber planter. He is on a ship heading to his plantation and is very irritable. When he gets into his room he throws his suitcase onto the bunk bed. The suitcase falls off the bed so he throws it back up only to have it thrown back down again. Maisie Ravier (Ann Sothern) is the stowaway that the inspector was looking. She asks Shane to let her stay in the room but he kicks her out and tells the captain. Maisie was supposed to have a job in Lagos where she could make money to pay everyone back. The captain trusts her to pay him back and says Maisie can stay on the ship and even sleep in his room. In reality the captain was being a pig and just wanted to try to get with Maisie. She winds up sleeping on the deck that night.
            The next morning Maisie is hungry. She gives the African cook the flower from her hair, a necklace, and bracelet for food. The cook goes out to the captain with them and shocks him and Shane as they eat their breakfast. After breakfast the boilers on the ship blow from too much pressure. Shane needs to get to his plantation. Maisie does not want to stay on the ship with the captain and asks to tag along. Shane does not want to come along at first but gives in. Poor Maisie falls in a mud pit and then winds up walking barefoot and gets tired to the point where Shane has to carry her the rest of the way. Shane brings Maisie to a mission in the middle of the jungle where he used to work as a doctor. A native sees Shane. The native knows Shane from when he used to work there and tells Shane that his son is sick. John McWade is the new doctor. Shane tells McWade about the boy but McWade has not heard anything about him. Shane digs into John for not going out to the village and fighting against the witch doctors. Maisie likes Kay, McWade’s wife. She thinks Shane is taking advantage of Kay loneliness and tells him to back off.
            The lab assistant goes into the village. She stops by to see the man with the sick son. The witch doctors and the villagers attack the lab assistant and kill the man.
            Maisie is with John alone. He has a stomach attack and he tells her it is nothing serious they have been happening for a while. Maisie walks to the end of the mission to go for a walk when she sees a bag with feathers in it. She learns the bag with the feathers is a sign of death from the witch doctors. John gets another attack and this time it is very severe. He tells Maisie it is his appendix it is going to burst. He has her lay him down and try to wrap him in ice until Shane and Kay return. Shane has to operate on John. Kay cannot help because she faints at the sight of blood. Maisie helps Shane with the operation. She does well until the very end and then faints. Kay goes to check on Maisie. Maisie tries to talk Kay out of loving Shane. Kay says Shane is the only man she has ever really loved. Maisie tells Kay their love will only last six months. John is no good for her, Maisie tells Kay, and also that they should go back home where they will both be happy. Kay thinks Maisie is just telling her all this stuff because Maisie wants him for herself. Maisie knows Shane’s type and she does not want a nice woman like Kay to wind up with a guy like him.  
            The villagers storm the mission. They throw the lab assistant’s hat back at Shane. Maisie runs in the house as Shane tries to talk to the villagers. She comes back out in her performance costume. She does a song and dance. Maisie tells Shane to tell the villagers that she is a witch. Maisie used to work for a magician and knows some tricks. She does a trick with water where she makes it come out of her palm. She knows from the barometer that it will rain that night so she has Shane tell the villagers it will rain soon. Just as Shane finishes his chant (which is a bunch of gibberish and a school chant) the clouds open and rain pours on the villagers.
            In the house Shane grabs Maisie. She sees Kay come out from John’s room. She makes Shane kiss to show Kay he is not a very good man. John and Kay decide to go home. Shane takes the job back because he is cranky from missing being a doctor. Maisie slaps Shane because he is no good for her. He wants her to marry him.
            I think I am addicted to watching Ann Sothern. I cannot handle how wonderful she is as Maisie. I really adore Maisie because she has been everywhere and done everything and through it all no matter her surroundings she is snarky, smart as a whip, and caring. I did not care for the rest of the cast they were not that great but they were not terrible. All I can say is thank God Maisie moves onto other men as the series progresses because I did not like the character of Michael Shane and it would have stunk if Maisie stayed with him.
            Congo Maisie I found to be hilarious. I was dying laughing when Ann Sothern came out in her costume and started singing to the natives. Congo Maisie was a little farfetched bringing Maisie all the way out to Africa and into the middle of the jungle but the film and the character were so entertaining and so much fun.