skip navigation
Glenda Farrell - 8/29
Remind Me
,The Personality Kid

The Personality Kid

You have to love the blue-collar urban-ness of Warner Brothers in the first half of the1930s. Its most characteristic women were either showgirls or manicurists or gold diggers (which doesn't preclude the first two), and when its men weren't either driving a cab or living the gangster life, they were song-and-dance men or boxers. That's just what Pat O'Brien is in this picture, and with a brassy, fast-talking blonde like Glenda Farrell behind him, you know he's gonna go places, see?

Farrell actually has a different sort of career here, not just as O'Brien's loyal wife but as his manager in the boxing game. She's good at what she does, lining up "bum of the month" matches for him to edge him toward the championship, but the problem is her showboat hubby, known in the business as Ritzy owing to his penchant for wearing a derby hat in the ring and dancing an Irish jig whenever he scores a knockout. Seems Ritzy's head gets a little to big for his derby once his career takes off, and he ends up leaving his wife for a society dame in the form of perennial Other Woman Claire Dodd. Only when he hits the skids does he realize just how valuable his faithful spouse is.

It's a formula as old as films about boxing, but it's done fairly well here. As the New York Times review had it: "Acted with some proficiency and humor by Pat O'Brien and Glenda Farrell, it succeeds in working up a fair sum of interest, without ever threatening to become one of the distinguished films of the year."

In his autobiography, O'Brien described his character as "a Cassius Clay" type, referring to the brash young boxer's attention-getting ways in the days before he became Muhammad Ali. O'Brien had apparently been a champion pugilist himself back in his days at Marquette University, and he was trained for this role by pros, one of whom plays a ring opponent. Alas, that was to no avail. As the Times review noted: "All this impressive statistical work adds up to zero. Mr. O'Brien and his various opponents in the film paw each other like long-lost brothers and some of the theoretically sleep-producing blows would hardly jar the script girl."

The film was directed by Alan Crosland, whose most significant place in film history is as director of Warner Brothers' milestone talkie The Jazz Singer (1927). The screenplay was co-written by F. Hugh Herbert, who knew a thing or two about putting snappy dialogue into the capable lips of Ms. Farrell, one of the fastest talkers in the business. He scripted six films for her between 1934 and 1938. His writing partner Erwin Gelsey wrote for her three times.

The film's title prior to release was "One Man Woman."

It should come as no big surprise that the story features a snippet (sung by O'Brien) of what was something of a theme song for the Warner Brothers studio at the time, "The Gold Diggers Song (We're in the Money)." The tune, introduced in the hit musical comedy Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), turned up frequently in studio releases of the period. It even became the title of a Farrell-Joan Blondell comedy of 1935 and an animated toy cartoon of 1933.

The picture was shot with characteristic Warner speed and energy in less than a month, between February 12 and March 5, 1934.

Director: Alan Crosland
Screenplay: F. Hugh Herbert, Erwin S. Gelsey; based on a story by Gene Towne and C. Graham Baker, adapted by David Boehm
Cinematography: William Rees
Editing: Terry Morse
Art Direction: John Hughes
Music: Bernhard Kaun (uncredited)
Cast: Pat O'Brien (Ritzy), Glenda Farrell (Joan), Claire Dodd (Patricia), Robert Gleckler (Gavin), Henry O'Neill (Stephens).

By Rob Nixon