Saturday, April 28, 2012


One of the things I love about Turner Classic Movies is their various oddball marathons. For example, it’s not surprising to see a marathon of films with the word “Ice” in the title. This often leads me to watching films that I might not normally seek out, even though I’m a huge fan of classic films.  A while back  they had a marathon of films where Boarding Houses figured into the plot. And thank heaven they did, otherwise I might not have watched the charming and hilarious film It All Came True (1940). This is one wildly entertaining musical comedy with a great, rare early comedic performance by Humphrey Bogart. This movie is  extremely charming and very funny. I belly laughed multiple times on top of having my heartstrings pulled.

Ann Sheridan getting ready to wow the audience in "It All Came True"
Una O’Connor and Jessie Busley are elderly women who inherit the boarding house that they work and live in. They inherit it from the previous and much beloved owner but also inherit the home‘s financial problems. Una is the house keeper and cook and the more level headed one. Busley is an eccentric dreamer, always thinking up stories that she is certain will come true but never do. Ann Sheridan is Una’s daughter, a sassy, bawdy nightclub singer, down on her luck. Jeffrey Lynn is Busley’s son whom she hasn’t seen or heard from in 5 years.

Bogart gets Jeffrey Lynn into trouble in "It All Came True"
Lynn has been working for a gangster/nightclub owner (Bogart) as a piano player. Bogart likes having Lynn around and likes his music. He constantly promises Lynn that he will hook him up with big time music producers but really has no intention of doing so. Bogart has also taken out a gun permit in Lynn’s name. A gun he uses to murder a stool pigeon. Lynn wants nothing to do with Bogart but given that the gun is in his name, realizes that they are joined at the hip until he can figure out a way to be free of him and prove the gun wasn’t his. 

Jessie Busley(L) and Una O'Connor(R) feed Humphrey Bogart

With the cops on their trail, Lynn and Bogart decide to hide out at his mothers boarding house. Here is where the fun begins as Busley and Una smother the horrified Bogart with love and affection. There is one hysterical scene when Una forcibly spoon feeds Bogart some beef stew.  It's a brilliant bit of comedy with Bogart.

Ann Sheridan and Humphrey Bogart face off in "It All Came True"

Meanwhile, Lynn and Sheridan, who grew up together, are now reunited and Sheridan immediately becomes his muse. Sheridan hopes that Lynn will write songs for her to sing to help jump start her failed singing career. Una and Busley hope that Lynn and Sheridan can use their musical talents to pay off the taxes due on the boarding house. What Lynn doesn’t know is that Sheridan once worked for Bogart. When Sheridan finds out Bogart is in the house she fearlessly bullies and badgers him into paying off the taxes on the house.
Felix Bressart and Zasu Pitts in "It All Came True"
Sheridan is able to convince Bogart (who has been trying to remain unseen and pretending to be recovering from a nervous breakdown) to come have dinner with the other boarders, including the ditzy, pulp mystery reading Zasu Pitts, Grant Mitchell as a failed poet and Felix Bressart as one of the worst magicians ever with a pet dog who constantly upstages him (something that Bogart finds hilarious). After watching Sheridan sing Lynn’s songs and after watching Bressart do his magic act, Bogart gets the idea of turning the boarding house into a nightclub with 1890s vaudville themed entertainment.
This is actually very cleverly executed as the gay 90s theme is given a sort of edgy, witty contemporary tweak. I’m not a huge fan of musicals (I tend to like the more oddball and obscure stuff such as Mickey Rooney’s The Strip and Leslie Caron’s Glory Alley.  The music here is very entertaining and not at all heavy handed or intrusive. It’s an organic part of the plot. My favorite was the chorus of sassy singing grannies known as the Elderbloom Chorus.

The lovely Ann Sheridan

This movie is just great. Bogart has many amusing scenes throughout the film. There’s one funny scene where Bogart is staying in a room that use to belong to Busley’s dead husband who was a zoologist. The room is filled with stuffed monkeys and owls and other creatures that just freak Bogart out. During one moment of boredom, Bogart lays in bed and pretends to shoot the various dead animals that decorate his room. Another good scene is when Sheridan catches Bogart cheating the other tenants in a friendly game of gin. Sheridan is also fun. She reminds me of the slightly less talented, slightly awkward kid sister of Rita Hayworth. But I mean that in a good way. She’s got some fun scenes with mother Una O’Connor. But the interplay between Bogart and O’Connor and Busley is just priceless. These three steal every scene they’re in. The movie kind of reminds me of Arsenic And Old Lace only without the various homicides. Bogart and Sheridan would team up for a total of five films and the two became great friends.  Just one year after this film was released, Bogart would see his star rise significantly with films such as High Sierra and Maltese Falcon.
It All Came True is showing on Turner Classic Movies this Tuesday, March 19 at 12:45 PM Eastern.  Don't miss it!

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