Monday, November 23, 2009
Torrid Zone (1940)
Tough boss Steve Case (Pat O'Brien) pulls a few underhanded tricks to keep his top man Nick Butler (Cagney) from quitting the banana business located in Central America. Complicating the plot is a nightclub singer, Lee Donley (Anne Sheridan), who Case decides needs to leave the area despite Lee needing the work. Dealing with guerilla warfare for plantation ownership and an incompetent plantation supervisor with a bored housewife, when Lee and Nick meet and hit it off, Steve’s got more than he can handle.
Torrid Zone, one of nine films featuring James Cagney and Pat O’Brien, is full of insults, quips and double entendres being thrown around at break neck speed. Add in “Oomph Girl” Ann Sheridan and warbling ole Andy Devine and you have yourself a comedy goldmine. Cagney stomping around in a floppy straw hat is comical by itself!
Lee Donley: [picking up a cigarette dropped by Gloria] I believe this is how the Chicago fire got started.
Gloria Anderson: The Chicago fire was started by a cow.
Lee Donley: History repeats itself.
Police Chief Juan Rodriguez: [arguing with Case on the phone] After a good night's sleep a man doesn't mind being shot, but during siesta? [a pause while he listens]
Police Chief Juan Rodriguez: All right, all right! Si, senor. We... we give him a permanent siesta - we shoot him right away.
Wally Davis: A house doesn't have to fall on me.
Nick Butler: It might help.
Lee Donley: [to Case] Mister, the stork that brought you must have been a vulture.
Lee Donley: [to Nick] I don't want to put you out. I'll take in washing for my room and board. Wally Davis: [slightly lasciviously] Well, I got a couple of buttons that could stand sewing. Lee Donley: [sarcastically] Shirts, I suppose.
Nick Butler: Oh, Lee, if you see Case, give him a kiss for me.
Lee Donley: Not even a foreign general would kiss that guy!
Lee Donley: Why don't you send that mind of yours out and have it dry-cleaned.
Nick Butler: What's the use? Look at the company I'm in.
Lee Donley: You won't be for long!
Lee Donley: [as Gloria enters] Here comes Malicious.
Nick Butler: Can that talk!
Lee Donley: Well, some days a girl can't make a cent!
Gloria Anderson: I don't imagine you have any trouble.
Lee Donley: Why do you walk around making noises like a lady? All a guy has to do is wink and he hits the jackpot.
Mr. Steve Case: [walking in while Lee and Nick are kissing] Necking like a couple of high school kids!
Lee Donley: [wisecracking] You interrupted a post-graduate course.
Lee Donley: [cutting off Nick's shirt so she can dress his wound] Oh did I hurt you?
Nick Butler: [sarcastically] Oh, no. How could you hurt me by sticking a scissors in my arm?
Gloria Anderson: But, Nick, aren't you going to Chicago?
Nick Butler: Sure.
Gloria Anderson: [realizing he is going with Lee, not her] Oh, I get it!
Gloria Anderson: You finally stepped down to your own level!
Lee Donley: That's still about three floors above yours!
Nick Butler: [to Lee] You and your 14 karat oomph!
Dubbed the “Oomph Girl” in the 1940’s by Warner Brothers for her earthy sex appeal, this was a moniker that Ann Sheridan openly disdained but eventually learned to accept.
Cagney: Because the story line of Torrid Zone was so terribly predictable, I thought that just to effect some kind of change, I'd grow a mustache. It was really a rather silly-looking thing, but at least it was inoffensive. Inoffensive, that is, to everyone except the top brass. They gave the producer of the picture, Mark hellinger, some emphatic hell about my little peccadillo. mark, a happy-go-lucky guy with a flair for high living, came to me about it.
"Jim," he said, "the boys in the front office want to know why you grew the mustache."
"What's the matter with it?" I said.
"The brass claims it takes away some of your toughness."
"They know all about that, don't they Mark? Hell, what do we want to do? Sell the public the same piece of yard-goods all the time? Let's have some variety." -Cagney by Cagney
Tonight on TCM!
Little Big Shot (1935) Small-time hoods turn nursemaid when a gangster's daughter is orphaned. Cast: Sybil Jason, Glenda Farrell, Robert Armstrong, Edward Everett Horton Dir: Michael Curtiz