Cast & Crew
Joe E. Brown
William Collier Jr.
When Mabel Robinson's costume party is broken up by the police, Jack Hackett's father insists that he end his engagement to her and leave town in the company of his cousin, Ossie Simpson. Mr. Hackett hopes Ossie's presence will be a steadying influence on Jack and orders Ossie to avoid women. Ignoring this edict, Ossie and Jack flirt with every woman they see on their way to California. In the Cactus Cafe, somewhere in the desert, Ossie manages to insult Pancho, a South American customer, who leaves the cafe in a huff. Later, they run into the back of Pancho's car, and when they get out of the car to assess the damage, Pancho drives away with their car hooked to the back of his. Walking along the road, Jack and Ossie stop to help Constance Palmer, whose car has broken down. She and her friend, Penelope Packer, offer the men a lift to the Huntington Hotel in Pasadena where everyone is staying. Ossie and Penny and Jack and Connie spend several delightful days together, despite the disapproval of Connie's aunt Polly. Jack asks Connie to marry him and she agrees, provided he will swear that the stories of his flirtations aren't true. Unfortunately for Jack, Mabel has followed him to California and threatens to show Connie his love letters. Ossie suggests that his actress friend, Gertie Gardner, pretend to be Connie and get Jack's letters from Mabel which they will then burn. The plan seems to work perfectly, but Connie and Penny return to the hotel earlier than they had planned and misunderstand what they overhear. Things grow even more complicated when Gertie's boyfriend Pancho arrives. Finally everything is straightened out and Jack will marry Connie as planned.
Joe E. Brown
William Collier Jr.
Along the way the two party boys encounter all manner of oddities, including a hot-tempered South American named Pancho (Bela Lugosi) whose lunch they ruin one day and whose car they run into the next in myriad comic bits of business devised to keep Brown's elastic face in constant animation.
There are more pleasurable incidents on the road as well, including the discovery of a comely brunette Constance Palmer (Ona Munson) and blonde Penelope Packer (Marjorie White) with a broken down car by the side of the road.
After assisting the stranded damsels, Ossie and Jack soon forget Hackett, Sr.'s demand that they stay away from the ladies. In no time they are engaged in a double romance only complicated by the appearance of Jack's former flame Mabel Robinson (Margaret Livingston) who threatens to reveal his playboy past to Connie. Ossie enlists an actress friend Gertie Gardner (Thelma Todd) to play Connie and retrieve Jack's love letters from Mabel. Despite myriad ensuing complications, true love triumphs in the end.
The incredibly versatile director Mervyn LeRoy, who mastered forms as varied as the musical (Gold Diggers of 1933, 1933) and the social issue drama (I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, 1932) in his day, and Joe E. Brown worked on four films together over the course of their careers. Both enjoyed their collaborations tremendously and LeRoy raved of Brown, who began his show biz career as a circus acrobat at age 9, "Many people don't know, or don't remember he was a great athlete as well as a comedian. Before he turned to acting, he had been a circus performer and he had great command of his body which, of course, enhanced his comedy routines."
Broadminded featured several actors in the early stages of their career before they found their niche. In an odd coincidence, many of their careers were also marked by tragedy.
Ona Munson created her most famous role as the whore-with-a-heart-of-gold Belle Watling in Gone with the Wind (1939), though her career arc seemed to peak with that role and ended unhappily with her suicide in 1955.
And the Hungarian-born Lugosi experienced his own traumas. Lugosi would become synonymous with Dracula for his role in Tod Browning's 1931 horror classic, which rocketed him to fame and inspired untold adulation including thousands of fan letters written by female fans. But like other typecast actors in Hollywood, Lugosi was never able to escape the horror straightjacket and often appeared in sub-par roles playing hackneyed villains. He also allowed his macabre on-screen personality to spill over his real life, granting interviews from a coffin and appearing at a movie premiere with a gorilla in tow. He later developed a drug problem, compounded by financial woes and several failed marriages, and died in 1956 after appearing in Ed Wood's infamous cult classic, Plan 9 from Outer Space (which wasn't released until 1959).
Like Munson and Lugosi, Thelma Todd's career in Hollywood also ended tragically. The beautiful "Ice Cream Blonde," achieved immortality in a disturbing manner when she died suddenly under mysterious circumstances. At the time of her death, Todd was at the height of her fame after a string of memorable performances as a wisecracking beauty in films alongside the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy and her friend Zasu Pitts. In 1935 her blood-spotted body was found in a parked car at the home she shared with her lover, married director Roland West, with whom she co-owned the popular beach cafe Thelma Todd's Roadside Rest. Her death was officially ruled carbon monoxide poisoning by a grand jury. But Todd's lawyer believed, according to Hollywood Babylon author Kenneth Anger, that the actress had gotten on the wrong side of gangster Lucky Luciano by refusing to allow him to operate an illegal gambling parlor at her cafe. Some also suspected West of an involvement in her death after their affair began to deteriorate. The popular star drew a large crowd to her open-casket Forest Lawn funeral.
Broadminded was the fifth film penned by frequent collaborators Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby who wrote the words and music for a number of Broadway musicals and Hollywood films like the Marx Brothers' Horse Feathers (1932) and Duck Soup (1933).
Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Screenplay: Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby
Cinematography: Sidney Hickox
Production Design: Anton Grot
Music: Herbert Taylor (uncredited)
Cast: Joe E. Brown (Ossie Simpson), Ona Munson (Constance Palmer), William Collier, Jr. (Jack Hackett), Marjorie White (Penelope Packer), Holmes Herbert (Jack Hackett, Sr.), Margaret Livingston (Mabel Robinson), Thelma Todd (Gertie Gardner), Bela Lugosi (Pancho), Grayce Hampton (Aunt Polly), George Grandee (Casper).
by Felicia Feaster
The opening credits note that Brunswick Radios were used "exclusively" in the picture. According to Harrrison's Reports, Fred Kohler and James Rennie were to appear in the picture.