Maid's Night Out (1938) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably G (suitable for all audiences)
Running Time: 64 min.
Cast: Allan Lane, Joan Fontaine, George Irving, Hedda Hopper, Cecil Kellaway, William Brisbane, Vickie Lester, Hilda Vaughn, Frank M. THomas
Director: Ben Holmes
Screenplay: Bert Granet
Review published February 14, 2003
Maid's Night Out is a short, feather-weight romantic screwball comedy, probably only of note for being one of the first roles for Joan Fontaine and one of the last for Hedda Hopper, who plays her mother.
The ever-smiling Allan Lane stars as Bill, the young son of a millionaire milk production owner, who has big aspirations of taking the family yacht for a south seas expedition. Daddy doesn't approve, but after some arguing, the two strike a bet. If Bill can work for a month as a milkman in the company without making a mistake, he can go. Along the route, Bill gets to know a young socialite he mistakes for a maid, Sheila, and the two strike up a romance, neither knowing the other is from a well-to-do family. However, with Bill's father wanting him to fail, while Sheila's mother wanting her to marry an older, presumed richer man, the chances for success, for the bet and the romance, seem to be diminishing daily.
While it isn't anything more than a momentary diversion, Maid's Night Out is charming enough to overcome the silly plotting and hackneyed humor. Allan "Rocky" Lane, who would later come to be known more for B-movie Westerns than as a romantic comedian, lays on the charm and shows plenty of teeth throughout. Lane later became the voice of another actor who showed plenty of teeth, the horse on the famous TV show, Mr. Ed.
Joan Fontaine's role doesn't carry the weight of some of her later roles, but she handles the comedic aspects well. If you're a fan, it's worth a watch if only out of curiosity, so long as you don't mind the silly, breezy nature of the film. It's inconsequential, but modest fun all the same.
©2003 Vince Leo