All My Dear Miss Aldrich is missing is a good script. Well, it’s missing some other things, but with a good script, it could have survived.
The film has a lot of events in the first thirty or forty minutes, with the remaining minutes centered on a mystery. But it’s not really a mystery because Aldrich is a comedy at a newspaper. Even when there are crimes committed, no one pays attention, because being held hostage isn’t a crime if the victim’s a newspaper employee apparently.
Maureen O’Sullivan inherits a New York newspaper and heads there (from Nebraska) with her aunt, played by Edna May Oliver. O’Sullivan and Oliver are great together; it’s unfortunate they soon get separated.
The paper’s run by Walter Pidgeon’s sexist editor. He’s so sexist, his all male staff thinks he’s overboard. So the film seems like it’s O’Sullivan out to prove him wrong… only she never does. In fact, she proves his argument—she’s just a silly woman and needs to marry him. Maybe if Pidgeon were charming or in any way appealing, it might be passable as a dated, unfortunately sexist picture.
But Pidgeon’s not appealing. His performance isn’t terrible, but he’s a jerk. Everyone thinks he’s a jerk. It’s hard to see why anyone is supposed to be in his corner.
Seitz’s direction’s merely adequate. He doesn’t get enough coverage and editor William S. Gray has to make some nasty cuts.
O’Sullivan and Oliver almost make Aldrich tolerable… but it’s a losing battle.