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When My Baby Smiles at Me

When My Baby Smiles at Me(1948)


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In a Kansas City burlesque house, in the 1920s, headliner Skid Johnson, an alcoholic comedian who has now not shown up on time for the third time in a week, barely makes it to the theater in time to go on. As he gets into his costume, his wife and partner, Bonny Kane, who smells liquor on his breath, complains about his lack of ambition, and he admits that he is just a "hoke" comic. While Skid is onstage, Bonny, who is not really mad at him, then threatens singer Sylvia Marco, who is leaving to be in a New York show, if she ever attempts to seduce Skid again. Later, Skid receives a telegram that offers him $500 a week to appear in the new show that big-time producer Sam Harris is putting on in New York, but following an argument with Bonny about Sylvia, Skid says he is not going. Cattleman Harvey Howell from Nevada, a fan who has followed Bonny's career in the trade papers, comes to her dressing room, and although flattered by the handsome cattleman's attention, Bonny quickly tells him she is married, which greatly disappoints Harvey. When Skid finds the two of them together, his nonchalance piques Bonny. With the help of Lefty Moore, the troupe's manager, Bonny convinces Skid to accept Harris' offer and promises to join him after the touring season is over. Skid is a hit, and on opening night, he convinces Harris to allow him to perform a new bit in the show. He is about to suggest Bonny as his partner, but Harris wants Sylvia for the part. After reading gossip about Skid and Sylvia, Bonny convinces Lefty to allow her to go to New York for a couple of days. She and Skid joyously greet each other, but Bonny becomes disheartened when she finds liquor bottles hidden in his bed. When she asks about Sylvia, he admits he has been out with her a few times, but says it means nothing. Bonny tells Skid that with her it is "all or nothing," and he says he will tell Harris to fire Sylvia. After Bonny returns to the troupe, however, Skid loses his nerve and does not talk to Harris, but continues to go out with Sylvia, and when Bonny reads a story about them, she cries. Skid soon is visited by a process server informing him he is being sued for divorce and is shocked. Bonny, who only wanted to bring Skid to his senses, decides to go through with the divorce when she hears nothing from Skid. Harvey reads about the pending divorce in Variety and invites Bonny to stay at his ranch in Nevada with his mother so that she can get a Reno divorce. Sometime later, after the divorce is granted, Gussie Evans, Bonny's former cohort, visits her at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, as she plans to marry Harvey in Connecticut the following week. Gussie's husband Bozo and Lefty then enter with Skid, who acts as if he is happy for Bonny. However, as he begins to drink and perform a routine with Bonny from the past, they become teary-eyed. When Harvey arrives, Skid, now viciously drunk and uncontrollable, performs a mock wedding ceremony and gives the bride away, then breaks down crying in frustration and pain until Bonny yells for him to stop. Later, when Lefty learns that Skid is in Bellevue Hospital, he offers Skid a role in a new show that is opening in three weeks. Bolstered by Lefty's confidence in him, Skid agrees, but he does not show up for rehearsal the day of the opening. Bonny, who has received a wire from Lefty, arrives and offers to help. Skid then shows up drunk and wobbly, and they attempt to get him sober. After Bonny does a number, Skid protests that he cannot go on, and Lefty asks Bonnie to perform alone. Instead, Bonny leads Skid to the stage to do the number that had so affected them both in the past. When she tells him that she could not marry anyone she did not love and that she is now back with him, Skid revives completely and finishes the number. Backstage, Skid and Bonny cry and kiss.