Monday, January 20, 2014

Gold Rush Maisie (1940)


One of the hundreds of reasons why I love the Maisie series is how Maisie gets herself lost on a way to a gig, uses her resourcefulness, and helps people in the process. In Gold Rush Maisie the titular character is on her way to a gig driving through the desert in a Midwestern town. Well, the town is actually a ghost town. Maisie goes into the town and realizes no one is there.
            Off in the distance she notices a ranch with the lights on. Maisie goes up to the house for some help but the owner a cranky young man named Bill Anders (Lee Bowman) tries to turn her away at first. But, Maisie being Maisie, sweet talks her way in for the night. Bill softens up a bit and tries to hit on Maisie since she is most likely the only woman he has been around in a very long time. When Maisie puts a stop to his pursuits Bill is furious with her again. The following morning Maisie tries to be nice and cook breakfast but Bill yells at her that he had breakfast hours before and she wasted their food. Bill manages to get Maisie’s car working to some extent but it does not go too far forcing her to walk and hitchhike the many miles into town.
            The first thing Maisie does is try to explain to the owner at the club she was supposed to work at that she ran into car trouble and had to walk all the way into town. The owner tells Maisie she is too late and besides the customers like the Hawaiian girl who dances. Downtrodden, Maisie heads to a small diner for dinner. When she enters she hears the owner and a local talk about the gold rush that has hit at the outskirts of town. It is actually happening in that old ghost town near Bill’s house (by this time Maisie has been away from the house for two days). As Maisie is eating a young girl named Jubie comes in asking the owner to warm up a bottle for her little sister. The owner does not want but after Maisie gives the guy her best attitude he relents. Jubie is very thankful to Maisie and really likes her.
            Maisie has to try to hike it back to Bill’s house to get her car. As she is walking the car Jubie is in with her family passes her. Jubie tells her father to stop the car that Maisie is the one who helped her out in the diner. Jubie’s parents Bert and Sarah are very happy to give Maisie a lift. They are all very sweet to her. Bert tells Maisie that they are headed to the gold rush to make their fortune. They want a better life for their children they do not want to have to travel around looking for work anymore. Jubie’s younger brother wants chocolate and food. Jubie wants a nice dress like Maisie’s. Sarah takes out their small amount of food and hands out small portions to the children. Maisie feels terrible seeing this she cannot believe these poor people have to live the way they do.
            When they arrive at the once called ghost town there are thousands of people there. Maisie goes to the grocer’s to pick up a few cans of food and other supplies for the family with her last few dollars. The family is beyond thrilled that they can eat a decent meal. They cannot find a spot to settle down and rest. They would have to pay five dollars to do so. Maisie comes up with the idea to settle on a piece of Bill’s land since he has a well nearby. Also Maisie knows that Bill will not bother her about anything since she is a little too much for him. Bert has Maisie become his partner and go in on whatever gold they can find.
            One night it rains and the tent Maisie has been sleeping under with the family becomes drenched. She has everyone run over the Bill’s house. He does not want them coming into his quiet house he hates that so many people have come over by his property. Yet again, Maisie wins out and Sarah and the children take the guest bedroom. Bill gives a shivering cold Maisie something to drink. She does not really drink alcohol because it makes her all funny but Bill tells her to drink up so she will not get a cold. As she drinks Bill’s cocktail they get to talking and the more Maisie drink the more her talking gets slurred and the sillier she sounds. Finally she gets up and lays down on a couch.
            Sometime later Maisie and Bert strike gold. They are all as happy as can be. Unfortunately their luck is not so good. An inspector from the federal government comes in to look at the claimed gold from all the people in town. The inspector finds the gold to be worthless. Everyone is disappointed.
            Maisie goes to back to Bill’s house with Bert and the family. Bert notices Bill has decent soil for planting. This gives Maisie the idea to get Bill to give Bert a job on the farm so the family does not have to move around anymore. Maisie gives Bill a good talking to, or more aptly, a good yelling at for being a selfish man for turning people away when he can provide them with work and a place to stay. Bill has a change of heart and gives Bert a job.
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            Maisie has to leave to get back to Arizona to the agency that sent her out into the middle of nowhere in the first place. The family is upset to see her go after all she did for them. Since they will be staying put Bert gives Maisie the family car. Before she leaves she promises Jubie she will write to her.
            Gold Rush Maisie was really cute. I love how Maisie sticks to her guns and does not let anyone bully her out of her convictions. I also love how Maisie has such a big heart and just rolls with the obstacles that come her way. She makes the most out of everything she encounters. This entry in the series is interesting because it is one of very few Hollywood films to have been made at the time that deals with the topic of the Depression out in the Midwest. Maybe because the Maisie films were considered B-movies rather than glitzy A-movies MGM figured they could get away with the topic. Whatever MGM’s though process was Gold Rush Maisie was down to earth and tough as nails.