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Politics (1931)

Politics (1931)

Directed by Charles Reisner this Robert Hopkins (San Francisco (1936)) story stars Marie Dressler (Min and Bill (1930)) as a woman whose outspoken views on cleaning up her city’s crime problem leads to her becoming a candidate for office against the incumbent. This comedy features a battle of the sexes political campaign as the wives in the community attempt to exert their influence on their husbands’ votes. One of the reasons this film is dated is because it shows men unable to accomplish household chores or care for their own children.

Hattie (Dressler) is a widow who’s living comfortably with her pretty blonde daughter Myrtle (Karen Morley) in their large home in which she takes in a married couple political wannabe Ivy (Polly Moran) and her stuttering barber & “put upon” husband Peter (Roscoe Ates). She is a very kind woman who sees humor in most situations and waits on her boarders like family. A typical role for the lovable Oscar winning actress Dressler. Unknown to Hattie is the fact that Myrtle is practically engaged to Benny (William Bakewell) who’s about to clean up his act by leaving the gang in which he’s a member. Curango (John Miljan) the leader of the gang and owner of the “speak easy” (e.g. an illegal bar) the Little Club is worried that Benny will “spill the beans” about their operation and has another gang member Nifty (Kane Richmond) “rub him out”. Fortunately for Benny Nifty is a terrible shot and actually kills Daisy (Joan Marsh) a friend of Myrtle’s instead. But Benny was hit and after fleeing the scene with Myrtle & not being able to go to a hospital to get better he hides out in Myrtle’s attic unbeknownst to Hattie who brings Mrs. Evans (Mary Alden) to her dying daughter.

At a women’s political rally to reelect the Mayor where Ivy is the sergeant at arms Hattie wants to know what the incumbent (Tom McGuire) is going to do about Daisy’s death and the growing crime problem in their small town in general. She accuses the appropriately named Mayor Tom Collins of being on the gangster’s dole and is so forceful expressing herself and her concern for their community’s children that the women rally and shout the Mayor off the stage. The rally’s leader (Claire Du Brey uncredited) then calls for new leadership saying there’s a perfect female candidate for the job. Hattie agrees and turns to pat the expectant Ivy on the back when Mrs. Evans finishes her cry that Hattie is the one! Both women are taken by surprise but Ivy joins the call for Hattie who reluctantly accepts their nomination.

The men in the community (including prolific uncredited actors Wilfred Lucas Robert Dudley and Robert McKenzie) are up in arms over the possibility that a woman could hold elective office and are determined to break up the all-female political rally in the park that follows. They select Ivy’s husband Peter to get his wife off the stage first which after some courage obtained at the “speak easy” he does. As several of the other husbands remove their wives from the audience (in which Ann Dvorak appears uncredited) Hattie starts to protest before the clouds open up and heavy rain chases away everyone but her. At the women’s next meeting in Hattie’s home she convinces the ladies that have the power – that by refusing to do e.g. domestic work and even in the bedroom (much to uncredited newlywed Dorothy Granger’s chagrin) for their husbands they can influence the election and unseat the Mayor. The strategy appears to be working until Peter Hattie and everyone else discovers that Benny’s been hiding out in Hattie’s attic. DeWitt Jennings uncredited plays the police chief.

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