Norman Z. McLeod

  • Norman Z. McLeod – Topper (1937)

    1931-1940ClassicsComedyNorman Z. McLeodScrewball ComedyUSA

    Thorne Smith is a name one hardly ever hears these days, and that’s a shame. In the 1920s and early ’30s, he was the popular author of a genre-defining series of novels in which mortal men broke out of their humdrum lives to embark on comic-erotic, supernaturally tinged adventures in the company of an exciting woman (or women). The most popular of these, Topper, was filmed in 1937, three years after Smith’s death. (Smith’s novel The Passionate Witch also became the basis for a classic film comedy, I Married a Witch (1942), and later the TV series Bewitched.)Read More »

  • Norman Z. McLeod – Isn’t It Romantic? (1948)

    1941-1950ComedyMusicalNorman Z. McLeodUSA

    In rural 19th-century Indiana, the three daughters of a Civil War veteran are courted by three young men–one a sophisticated city slicker who sells phony oil stock, the second a local eccentric and the third a stolid country boy.Read More »

  • Leo McCarey & Ray McCarey & Norman Z. McLeod – The Milky Way (1936)

    1931-1940ClassicsComedyLeo McCareyNorman Z. McLeodRay McCareyUSA

    Harold Lloyd’s most critically successful talkie. Timid milkman, Burleigh Sullivan, somehow knocks out a boxing champ in a brawl. The fighter’s manager decides to build up the milkman’s reputation in a series of fixed fights and then have the champ beat him to regain his title.Read More »

  • Norman Z. McLeod – Monkey Business (1931)

    USA1931-1940ClassicsComedyNorman Z. McLeod

    On board a ship to America, four stowaways get involuntarily pressed into service as toughs for a pair of feuding gangsters while trying desperately to evade the ship’s crew. Prior to this, the film has no real plot, just the brothers causing unending uproar. Except in the credits and in the screenplay, the Brothers’ characters have no names in this film. They are referred to simply as “the stowaways”. After arriving stateside one of the gangsters kidnaps the other’s daughter, leaving it up to the brothers to save the day.Read More »

  • Norman Z. McLeod – Horse Feathers (1932)

    1931-1940Amos Vogel: Film as a Subversive ArtClassicsComedyNorman Z. McLeodUSA

    Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff has just been installed as the new president of Huxley College. His cavalier attitude toward education is not reserved for his son Frank, who is seeing the college widow, Connie Bailey. Frank influences Wagstaff to recruit two football players who hang out in a speakeasy, in order to beat rival school Darwin. Unfortunately, Wagstaff mistakenly hires the misfits Baravelli and Pinky. Finding out that Darwin has beaten him to the “real” players, Wagstaff enlists Baravelli and Pinky to kidnap them, which leads to an anarchic football finale.Read More »

  • Norman Z. McLeod – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947)

    1941-1950ClassicsComedyNorman Z. McLeodUSA

    Plot Synopsis by Hal Erickson
    James Thurber wasn’t too happy with the Sam Goldwyn film adaptation of his 1939 short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, but the Technicolor musical comedy proved to be a cash cow at the box office. Danny Kaye stars as Walter, a milquetoast proofreader for a magazine publishing firm. Walter is constitutionally incapable of standing up for himself, which is why his mother (Fay Bainter) has been able to arrange a frightful marriage between her son and the beautiful but overbearing Gertrude Griswold (Ann Rutherford). As he muses over the lurid covers of the magazines put out by his firm, Walter retreats into his fantasy world, where he is heroic, poised, self-assured, and the master of his fate. Glancing at the cover of a western periodical, Walter fancies himself the two-gun “Perth Amboy Kid”; a war magazine prompts Walter to envision himself as a fearless RAF pilot; and so on. Read More »

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