A scene from READIN' AND WRITIN', directed by Robert F. McGowan for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Readin’ and Writin’ (1932, Robert F. McGowan)

Readin’ and Writin’ opens on an incredibly unrealistic note–teacher June Marlowe is looking forward to the school year starting. Even ignoring the worst students in the bunch, none of them are sweet or nice.

But Marlowe (and the class) have to contend with Kendall McComas’s troublemaker, who’s trying to get expelled on his first day. Apparently, McComas’s little psychopath is supposed to be funny; too bad the writing and acting don’t make him so.

McComas and Marlowe are simply weak actors. McComas at least has a schtick. He talks like he’s in a gangster movie. Marlowe is just bad. McGowan must not have spent any time directing the adults, just the kids.

McGowan’s direction is pretty good. He can’t make the short move fast enough though–it’s mostly McComas plotting his various assaults.

The conclusion has a weird, awesomely out of place voiceover sequence. It almost makes it worthwhile.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Robert F. McGowan; written by H.M. Walker; director of photography, Art Lloyd; edited by Richard C. Currier; produced by McGowan and Hal Roach; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring Kendall McComas (Breezy Brisbane), Matthew ‘Stymie’ Beard (Stymie), Sherwood Bailey (Spud), Bobby ‘Wheezer’ Hutchins (Wheezer), Dorothy DeBorba (Dorothy), Carlena Beard (Marmalade), June Marlowe (Miss June Crabtree), Harry Bernard (The fruit vendor), Otto Fries (The blacksmith), Donald Haines (Speck), Lyle Tayo (Breezy’s mother) and May Wallace (Wheezer’s mother).

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