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My Little Chickadee

(1940 b 83')

En: 7 Ed: 6

A fallen woman marries a con man for respectability but woos other men while he barely survives as sheriff.

A masked bandit holds up a stage and carries off gold and Flower Belle Lee (Mae West). She returns to town with some of the gold. At night the bandit visits her, and Mrs. Gideon (Margaret Hamilton) tells a court she saw them kiss. The judge expels Flower Belle from the town, and she takes a train. An Indian stops the train so that Cuthbert Twillie (W. C. Fields) can get on. He plays cards with Flower Belle. When Indians attack, she shoots some. Mrs. Gideon tells Twillie that Flower Belle needs to be married to enter town. He woos Flower Belle, who sees his money and agrees to take him. She gets gambler Amos Budge (Donald Meek) to wed them.

Flower Belle orders a separate room for Twillie and learns that his money is fake. Twillie goes out for a drink and wins $100 and more at cards. Jeff Badger (Joseph Calleia) has him locked up for cheating but releases him for Flower Belle. Twillie claims he killed Indians, and Badger makes him sheriff. Wayne Carter (Dick Foran) objects. At a dinner Badger asks Flower Belle to get divorced. She sings "Willie of the Valley." Flower Belle calls on newspaperman Wayne, who says sheriffs are killed by Badger. Wayne wants a better school for the town. Flower Belle lets Twillie in her room, and she finds a note from the bandit. Twillie takes a bath. Flower Belle puts a goat in her bed and leaves to meet the bandit, who gives her gold. Men tell Twillie the bandit help up the stage, but he goes back to bed. Wayne takes Flower Belle in a carriage and kisses her. Twillie tends bar until Badger dismisses him. Wayne has a meeting, and Mrs. Gideon says that Flower Belle knows the bandit. The schoolteacher collapses, and Flower Belle takes over the class.

Twillie enters Flower Belle's room disguised as the bandit. When she makes him leave, Mrs. Gideon screams. Wayne and men grab Twillie, and Mrs. Gideon has Flower Belle arrested. She woos the bearded sheriff and escapes. Badger finds Flower Belle in his office. She says she is not married, and he kisses her. She realizes he is the bandit. Wayne tries to stop the lynching of Twillie. Flower Belle shoots the rope and shows them the gold as Badger escapes and changes. While Wayne is proposing to Flower Belle, Badger interrupts. She asks both to call on her. She gives Twillie his ring back, and he asks her to come see him.

Mae West and W. C. Fields wrote the screenplay for this classic that displays their comic talents, though censorship mutes their humor. Indians are badly treated, and Flower Belle seems equally inclined to accept the attentions of the town tyrant as much as the reforming journalist.

Copyright © 2002 by Sanderson Beck

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