Men are Such Fools – 1938

Men are Such Fools Poster

My Review

—Good Charisma, TERRIBLE Script—

Bogie Film Fix:

.5 Bogie out of 5 Bogies!

Director: Busby Berkeley

The Lowdown

Jimmy Hall (Wayne Morris) grows jealous when his girlfriend Linda (Priscilla Lane) starts advancing in her advertising career and becomes the object of attention for several of the men that she works with.

What I Thought

My brother occasionally helps me out with this blog, giving me access to his satellite dish for TCM when I need to watch a film that’s not available on DVD. He watched Men are Such Fools before I did and his review was, “It’s horrible!”

How bad could it be? I thought, It’s got Wayne Morris, Priscilla Lane, Penny Singleton, Bogart, and was directed by Busby Berkeley! I just figured that my brother wasn’t as cultured with the classics as I am. Maybe he’s just not as good at identifying the wonderful qualities in the older, more obscure, films.

Turns out he was dead on. It’s pretty bad.

Don’t get me wrong, all of the actors come off as well as they can. Wayne Morris is incredibly charming. Priscilla Lane is gorgeous and witty. Bogart is playing a slightly more redeemed version of the con man that he played in some of his earlier films. It’s just the script that stinks here. It’s horrible. Truly, terribly, bad and horrible.

What’s missing? Motivation. Any motivation whatsoever is nowhere to be found for any of the characters.

Wayne Morris is in love with Priscilla Lane. She wants none of it. Suddenly she falls desperately in love with him after he’s been nothing but a nagging pest. What changed? Nothing. For the plot to advance their love needed to happen, so it does.

Lane goes from secretary to ad exec wunderkind! How? She has one good idea about an ad campaign. Before the campaign even fully comes to fruition, everyone in town knows her name and she’s appearing in the newspaper as an advertising genius. How does everyone hear about her and come to such an esteemed opinion of her talents? It’s not really explained, but for Morris to get jealous of the time she spends with other men, it needed to happen so it just does.

Lane’s boss (Hugh Herbert) is all grabby and creepy-old-manish towards her, obviously interested in something besides her talent. What turns him from a sexual predator into a friend? Uh, I guess Wayne Morris shows up and then Herbert just decides to turn over a new leaf when he sees how much Morris loves her?

Then there’s the fact that Lane seems to find it perfectly acceptable to flirt and lead men on to get ahead in her career – making Morris wait on the sideline while she makes time with Bogart’s radio exec, Harry Galleon. Sure, go ahead Director Berkeley, lose any sympathy for Lane that we might have as we actually feel kind of bad for Morris even though we’re apparently supposed to be in awe of Lane’s female empowerment.

Ugh. If there had been any sort of baseline believable plot for this one, just a hint of promise in the screenplay, this could have been a quaint little romantic comedy. Instead, lots of wonderful talent is wasted on a herky-jerky plot and poor character development. I feel bad being this hard on a film, but I’d probably sit through Isle of Fury again twice before going back to this one.

The Bogart Factor

Bogart’s here with a decent amount of screen time as radio man Harry Galleon. What can I say though? He does his best with what little he has. There’s a slightly promising side story with Bogart’s second love interest, Marcia Ralston, and how Director Berkeley handles the subtleties of a long term relationship on the rocks, but other than that, there’s no real meat to Bogart’s character.

He looks good, I guess. We get to see him in an old school men’s two-piece bathing suit . . .

The Cast

Wayne Morris plays Jimmy Hall, the loving and supportive man behind Priscilla Lane’s successful woman. It kills me that out of all the collaborations Morris had with Bogart, he shows the most onscreen charisma here, but he has nothing to do with it other than to stand around and look good. If nothing else, he does get a few chances to play brooding and jealous alongside of Lane and Bogart.

Priscilla Lane plays Linda Lawrence, the young secretary turned advertising genius. It was great to see Lane again after enjoying her so much alongside James Cagney in The Roaring Twenties. She’s pretty, upbeat, and comes off well onscreen, but again, like everyone else here, her character is flimsy, often unlikable, and makes numerous unmotivated decisions. If nothing else, this film makes me want to go rewatch Arsenic and Old Lace so that I can see Lane at her finest.

Hugh Herbert plays Lane’s boss, Harvey Bates. Good character actor, but again, see my complaints for the previous two stars.

Perhaps my favorite role in the whole film is played by Marcia Walston as Wanda, the jealous woman in Bogart’s life. It’s a small role, but at least her choices are motivated and understandable!

And don’t forget Penny Singleton! I could watch that woman do anything . . . and I might have a little crush on her.

Classic Bogie Moment

Are you kidding me? This guy even wears swimsuit robes that look like trench coats! Is this as close as we’ll ever get to seeing Rick Blaine relaxing by the pool?

Men are Such Fools Classic

The Bottom Line

This one’s for Bogart completists only.

14 thoughts on “Men are Such Fools – 1938

    • Well, there’s been a few ‘hard to get’ Bogart films that I’ve found to be real treats and it makes me wonder why they’re not in wider circulation. This one though, has apparently been hard to find for a reason. I’ll have to revisit it in a month or two and see if it’s any more likable.

  1. Pingback: Wayne Morris | The Bogie Film Blog

  2. I collect 16mm prints of as many Bogart films as I can acquire. Some I have i.e. “MIDNIGHT”, “ISLE OF FURY”, “RACKET BUSTERS”, “THE BIG SHOT” will clearly not be among the entries on anyone’s top 10 list though I find each of those welcome additions to my collection if for no other reason than Bogart’s presence. I’d still gladly add “SWING YOUR LADY” and the ridiculous though entertaining “THE RETURN OF DR. X” were I to find them. I drew the line however with “MEN ARE SUCH FOOLS”. A print is available yet I’m distancing myself from it as I would a known covid 19 case. I won’t attempt to embellish anything that’s been said here as it’s all quite accurate. As someone else here pointed out that this film is hard to get I would add so is malaria. I’d like to have had the cranberry concessions when this item played in first run houses. If you haven’t seen this one abandon your search and watch “THE PETRIFIED FOREST” again. It will be time better spent.

    • Return of Dr X is one of the stupidest films I’ve ever seen – and I thought Bogart was terrible in it! I really loved Petrified Forest though. The other one I was surprised by, because I hadn’t heard of it before, was The Desperate Hours – really gripping. I also just watched The Great O’Malley, which I found quite entertaining.

  3. I am a Bogart completist, and this is one I just can’t find anywhere! Even if it’s a terrible film, where do I get it from?!?!!?

  4. I got this from an online DVD-R place….
    I found a DVD of 1931’s “Body and Soul” however after shipping from Pakistan its $70 USD so I’m holding off until I’m desperate!
    “A Devil With Women” however is the only Bogart film I simply can’t find anywhere.
    Anybody out there- is “Body and Soul” worth $70 to watch?!

    • Those are the two I need too. Never been brave enough to order from Pakistan. Split it? 😉 I found online that several years ago they showed A Devil With Women on the east coast at a little theater, but that’s the only U.S. record I can find of it.

      • My wife scoffs at me because I’m a millennial who’s fav channel is TCM.
        Men were cool and my god ALL the females in “The Big Sleep” are the best looking I’ve ever seen!
        1931’s “Body and Soul” DVD traveling from Pakistan would probably take 2 months to arrive (I’ve ordered from Israel and it’s basically that long) -that’s a long time to worry about $70! Also you think the reviews for “Men Are Such Fools” are bad?!
        The 100% negative reviews for “Body and Soul” are another thing!
        If/when I take the plunge I’ll definitely share it w/everyone & anyone.

  5. Dark haired Bette Davis in “Juarez”! My lord!
    Her performance in “Of Human Bondage” made my jaw drop-her and Brando in Last Tango are the only actors to make me speechless.
    You should do a Bette Davis film blog!

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