Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Devil is a Sissy

I tivo'd this little gem on TCM, selected by Harvey Fierstein who gleefully told Robert Osbourne, "I am a sissy!" in that great voice of his. What a title! What a cast! And what a premise:
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How could I resist? Naturally "Claude" (Freddie Bartholomew - who else?) wears his Little Lord Fauntleroy ensemble the whole time - matching short pants and jacket, with white shirt (he abandons the cap after his first day, but one wonders why his books aren't tied together with a ribbon.) Claude's parents are divorced (oh, the shame!) and despite his mother's disaffection for NY ("Well, all I see is squalor and dirt. And unpleasantly swarthy people.") she ditches Claude-y pants with his father, a clueless architect who remains unconcerned when Claude's retelling of his first day at school includes "electric chair," "up the river," and a "kick me" sign on his back, wishing, "I want them to like me, Father - more than anything ... in the world!" Day two's afterschool request is boxing lessons and a black eye, resulting in a "jolly good!" reaction from Dumb Olde Dad. Bad boys Mickey "Gig" Rooney (son of electrified father and prostitute aunt) and Jackie "Buck" Cooper set out to get Claude and the fun begins.

The IMDB synopsis is much more serious: At a cafe owned by a Frenchman, Claude ostensibly orders a special sauce in French, but actually tells the owner to call the police. When they come, the bullets start flying.

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Sadly, neither Franklin Pangborn nor Edward Everett Horton are in it, so it's not "the greatest human drama" that it promises, but still worth watching.
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