Friday, December 6, 2013

Maisie (1939)


My favorite female movie characters are ones that are feisty, intelligent, witty, and tough. Growing up I never had much confidence in myself. To be totally honest I never had much confidence in myself up until last year at twenty-five years old. Hey, everything takes time. Anyway, I always loved feisty, intelligent, witty, and tough chicks because I wished I could have their confidence and steel exterior. Within the past two years Nora Charles from The Thin Man series has become my favorite witty and feisty female movie character. If you cannot find something to love about Nora Charles in The Thin Man (the first one) then you obviously hate humor and life and even independent women for that matter (yes, I know Nora was married but she went out and did a few things on her own). Within the last two to three months I have found another feisty, witty, tough female character to love. The character is Maisie Ravier from the Maisie film franchise. The first time I saw Maisie in Maisie Goes to Reno I adored her. Here was a woman who went out on her own and let life take her where it wanted. I have finally seen the first Maisie Ravier simply titled Maisie and enjoyed every minute of it.
            Maisie (Ann Sothern) is a performer and she travels out to Wyoming where she thought she had a job. When arrives at the theater, an old man tells her the show has folded because the rodeo is in town. Maisie goes down to the fair to see what all the fuss is about. She talks her way into a job at a shooting game. While trying to attract customers Maisie meets a guy named Slim (Robert Young). Silm dropped his wallet and the owner of the game sees it on the floor and takes it. Silm comes back looking for his wallet. Maisie does not have it. She tries to tell the sheriff but he only listens to Slim who he knows and arrest Maisie.
            Now Maisie has no job and the sheriff tells her she has to leave no one can say in the town without a job. She cannot leave she only has fifteen cents to name at the moment. She winds up hitching a ride on Slim’s truck. She wants him to give her a job but he refuses.
            A man named Ames owns the ranch that Slim works on. He wants to take his wife Sybil (Ruth Hussey) there to get away from the city. Maisie decides she will be Sybil’s maid and has to stay on the ranch now much to Slim’s anger. As Maisie clears out Sybil’s suitcase she finds a photograph of another man. Ames notice’s the photograph. Sybil tells her husband that she did not mean to pack the photograph that their maid packed. She tells her husband she really him not the other man.
            Maisie likes Ames. They spend so much time together on the ranch talking and playing cards. She confesses to Ames that she made up her job so she could stay. Ames likes that Maisie always looks on the up and up in life. She tells Ames she does not lie to people she likes. She lets Slim know she told Ames that and that Sybil is dynamite.
            Sybil has her lover Richard come down to the ranch in secret. She has him meet her down at a small cabin away from the ranch. Ames and Maisie play a few games of poker together. She notices he is distracted and stares off. She sees that the truck is leaving to go bring Slim and the other men some supplies while they are out on the fields. She suggest that she and Ames drive the truck so they can get away from the ranch for a while. On the road Ames pops a tire and the car flips over. Maisie is alright but Ames’s arm is pinned down. Maisie walks for miles and comes across the cabin where Sybil and Richard are together. Maisie walks in on the lovers but she does not say too much.
            Maisie and Ames are fine after their accident. Slim takes care of Maisie. He tells her he does not like women because he had gone to jail for a year covering for a girl after he had found her stealing money. The girl told Slim she would wait for him but when he was released she was with someone else. Slim admits to Maisie he loves her and she wants to marry him.
            Sybil comes back late from riding. Ames suspects she has been somewhere with Richard. Sybil tries to bribe Maisie to not saying anything but Maisie tells her off that she is not going to say anything because she likes Ames. Sybil goes back to Slim that Maisie has had a flirtation with Ames. Slim and Maisie get into an argument and she decides to leave for good. Ames comes to say goodbye to her. She tells Ames to write to her.
            That night Ames writes a letter to Maisie but sticks the letter in an envelope addressed to someone else. Just as Ames finished closing the letter Slim comes in saying he wants to leave so he can go find Maisie. When Slim leaves the room he hears a gun go off. He runs back into the room where he finds Ames dead.
            A month later Maisie is in another town working as a manicurist. A man comes in from the town where Slim’s ranch is. He is talking to a man and mentions Ames’s death and how Slim has been accused of the murder. Maisie runs out of the shop. Right after her flight a lawyer comes in looking for her. Maisie rushes to the courtroom and gives her testimony to try to help save Slim. The lawyer that had been looking for her in the shop comes in just as she is done giving her testimony. The lawyer has Ames’s letter to Maisie. The letter was to be opened and read only by her. The letter states that Ames killed himself because he loved Sybil but could not be without loving her loving him. He also wrote that he left the ranch and some money to Maisie.
            Ann Sothern is just brilliant. She is too perfect for words as Maisie. She did not go overboard with any of Maisie’s personality traits. Maise was smart, tough, and sentimental and all of these Sothern played very well. Maisie needed a place to stay and work and she made it happen. Not many women did that back and they still do not to this day. Robert Young seemed a bit out of place playing a ranch hand wearing cowboy boots and a hat. The man looked best in suits and top hats not cowboy boots and cowboy hats. He was good though I liked him with Sothern. Ruth Hussey was the bad girl. This was the second time I saw her play a bad character. I am so used to seeing her in The Philadelphia Story it is odd to see her be bad. Hussey was a good actress I like watching her in as any character.

            Maisie is a great film. It manages to balance romance, drama, and comedy very well. I think it is the perfect introduction to a wonderful character. I highly suggest watching Maisie especially for Ann Sothern. After seeing this film Maisie has definitely become one of my favorite female movie characters and it has everything to do with Ann Sothern playing the part brilliantly (this is an MGM B picture. It was mean to be an A picture starring Jean Harlow but she unfortunately passed away and the film was kicked around until 1939). It will keep you entertained from beginning to end.