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Boy Meets Girl Reviews

This zany comedy presents screwball screenwriters Cagney and O'Brien whose every movie is a variation on the "boy meets girl" theme, and they are fast running out of ideas, so their plots and characters are becoming more and more outlandish. They are also guilty of incessant pranks and generally lunatic behavior, much of which is directed at studio supervisor Bellamy who is desperately trying to get them to write a logical script for the studio's pompous cowboy star Foran. The western star's career is fading fast, and he is in dire need of a punchy vehicle that will put him back on top fast. Meanwhile dumb blonde Wilson, a studio commissary waitress, is worried about her infant child's future. Cagney and O'Brien, her self-appointed protectors, tell her not to worry, assuring her that they'll take care of the child's destiny. To that end, they bat out a completely preposterous script with Wilson's baby, whom they name Happy for the film, as the central character in a Foran western epic. The picture is made and is a huge success, and Happy is a superstar. BOY MEETS GIRL was a triumph, largely because the public flocked to see any film starring James Cagney. It also satisfied a desire to see what actually went on at the studios where stars were made overnight. The movie reveals the Warner sound stages, back lots, and front offices, showing the production staff, the technicians, and the stars at work. Particularly delightful was the nose-thumbing approach Cagney and O'Brien took toward their powerful bosses in a scathing satire of Hollywood producers and moguls who are accurately depicted as a rather dim-witted, uncreative lot. (That such a film was allowed to be made at the time is a minor miracle.) The role models for the Cagney-O'Brien team, of course, were the talented, irreverent Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, the greatest film-writing duo in the business. The story behind this riotous film is almost as fascinating as the movie itself. A Broadway hit written by Sam and Bella Spewack in 1935, BOY MEETS GIRL was originally intended to be directed by George Abbott and to star Marion Davies. Madcap comedians Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson were supposed to star as the writers, but they were busy elsewhere, so the studio brought in Cagney (then earning $150,000 per film with 10% of the gross) and O'Brien. Davies, who was to be the central character, began complaining about her role, saying that it wasn't big enough--and who were these two madman writers in the film anyway? She was replaced by Marie Wilson whose role was made even smaller. It was the last straw for temperamental Marion; she immediately retired from films altogether. Lloyd Bacon replaced Abbott, which was probably fortunate for the film, because Bacon directed at a hectic pace which matched the whirlwind acting. Future film stars can be seen throughout the film. Penny Singleton, who later became Blondie, plays the cute, curvaceous manicurist, and the cashier in the studio commissary is Carole Landis. Ronald Reagan made the cast as the announcer who heralds the arrival of stars at a premiere (at the Carthay Circle Theater in Los Angeles which was used in many movies to depict premieres). Behind Reagan, the theater marquee announces the premiere as being THE WHITE RAJAH with Errol Flynn. This was an inside joke: Flynn had written a script years earlier called THE WHITE RAJAH, but Warner Bros. found it too weak to film. When looking for a title for the fictional premiere, director Bacon came across the old manuscript. Flynn didn't think it funny. Song: "With A Pain In My Heart" (M.K. Jerome, Jack Scholl).