johnlink ranks FIREMAN, SAVE MY CHILD (1932)

This movie came across TCM recently, and I snagged it because it featured a comedian named Joe E. Brown. I’d never heard of him before, but TCM was running a whole bunch of his movies and I figured I would pick one that sounded decent. These early comedies are really hit or miss. So I had absolutely no idea what I was in for.


I watched FIREMAN, SAVE MY CHILD (1932) on 11.26.14. It was my first viewing of the film.

This is an early sound film about a guy named Joe (Joe E. Brown) who is a firefighter first and a baseball player second. He has invented a ‘fire bomb’ which puts out fires when you throw it into one. Strangely, no one thinks this is important. So, when the St. Louis Cardinals offer him $75,000 to be a pitcher for them, he accepts.

I had no idea, going into this movie, that this was a baseball movie at all. The description referred to his invention and not his baseball prowess. It was a pleasant surprise to see that this featured a good deal of baseball, since it is always fascinating to see contemporaneous examples of what sports looked like over 70 years ago. Seeing the St. Louis Cardinals uniforms, not looking all that different from they look now, was kind of cool.


Unfortunately, the comedy is not all that funny. Brown is affable enough, his rubber faced grins are full of joy, but he isn’t particularly funny. The movie uses puns and gags which all point to our lead being a little bit of a dolt. While there is a good deal of bawdy humor (this was pre-code Hollywood after all) it comes across as crass for the sake of crass rather than humorous. Not that I’m a prude, mind you, it just induces eye-rolls instead of laughs. It’s easy to see, simultaneously, why Brown was liked enough to get a bunch of movies, but not really memorable enough to have gone down in history with the comedy greats.

Anyway, Joe has a girl at home he is engaged too (Evalyn Knapp). But he he meets a gold-digger (Lilian Bond) on the road who wants his money. They do things like go on a boat and fall in the water and argue and kiss and turn Joe into a raving jerk who dumps his fiancee. These scenes hope to be funny, but they devolve into melodrama with this sort of misogynistic humor where the girls are the unfunny props for a humorous man… only the man here isn’t all that funny.

There is a last bit with Joe showing some executives his invention. It, naturally, goes wrong. This bit ain’t so bad. But as a finale, it really falls flat. The denouement is predictable, happy, and normal. Further, because the sport is baseball, the idea that a guy can come in and be a savior… as a pitcher… in the ninth inning of a game that has gotten out of hand shows a severe lack of even a basic knowledge of the game of baseball.

So, ultimately, I can’t really recommend this movie. There’s nothing to see here worth spending an hour-plus on. Yet… I did anyway. What does that say about me?




FINAL SCORE: 4 out of 10

~ by johnlink00 on November 26, 2014.

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