My Little Chickadee (1940)

 “I generally avoid temptation unless I can’t resist it.”

Teaming sexpot Mae West with comedian W.C. Fields results in an incongruous–but winning combination in the 1940 western film My Little Chickadee. Mae West plays Flower Belle–a woman whose behaviour is so scandalous, the residents of Little Bend put her on a train and run her out of town. W.C. Fields is the man who comes to her rescue and saves her reputation.

my-little-chickadeeFlower Belle is seen kissing the mysterious masked bandit in her bedroom late one night. This is enough for town gossip Mrs. Gideon (Margaret Hamilton) to conclude that Flower Belle is in cahoots with the robber Romeo. Mrs. Gideon and her group of outraged citizens throw Flower Belle out of town. She may return only when she is respectably married. The train leaving Little Bend takes Flower Belle to the next town–Greasewood.

On the train, Flower Belle meets trickster Cuthbert J. Twillie (W.C.Fields). Twillie is smitten by the tough blonde bombshell (“who is that vision of loveliness?”), and she is rather taken with his bag full of money. Flower Belle stages a marriage using a cardsharp as a minister, and descends upon Greasewood as a married woman.

Naturally Flower Belle gathers numerous new suitors in Greasewood. Shady Saloon owner Jeff Badger (Joseph Calleia) immediately makes Twillie the new sheriff (there have been 5 in the last 6 months), and Badger says that Flower Belle will make a gorgeous widow. Also pursing Flower Belle is newspaperman Wayne Carter (Dick Foran).

The greatest laughs in My Little Chickadee take place between Twillie and Flower Belle. Once the newly married pair arrives in town, Flower Belle demands the bridal suite (and gets it) while Twillie persistently tries to gain entrance to his bride’s boudoir. Mae West and W.C. Fields prove to be a splendid match for one another as she holds him at arm’s length with her saucy one-liners, and he showers her with wordy compliments. “My Little Chickadee” includes Mae West singing “Willie of the Valley” and a hilarious scene in which she takes over a classroom of rowdy schoolboys. Co-written by Mae West and W.C Fields, My Little Chickadee is a delight for fans of both these stars. From director Edward F. Cline.

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