I really do adore Ann Sothern. She’s always quite delightful as Miss Maisie Ravier, the indefatigable burlesque dancer from Brooklyn who is the main character in ten absolutely charming comedies. But if you stop and think about the series as a whole, Maisie becomes a rather dark and tragic character, contrary to the way she’s presented in the films.
Oh, each individual film is splendid light comedy, as Maisie – worldly, but innocent, a girl who’s always up for a good time, but definitely not fast or easy – gets into and out of scrapes with her charm and pluck, works at many jobs in between her stage engagements, and finds romance before the end credits. Promises of marriage are made and accepted. Fade out on a passionate kiss. The end.
But consider what that means. By the time the next film in the series begins, the romance of the previous film has evaporated without explanation. The previous love interest is never mentioned, or even alluded to. No, at the start of each new adventure Maisie is single, usually own on her luck, and on the road to some new destination. We can’t know *why* her engagements never pan out, – maybe everybody who proposes to her backs out later? – but as a wise person once advised me, “The common denominator in all your crappy relationships is you.” For whatever reason, Maisie obviously leaves a a disaster trail of broken romances and jilted fiancées in her wake.
Is it a classic fear of commitment? Is she a serial runaway bride? We may never know what drives Maisie away from one romance and inexorably towards another. Poor, poor Maisie.
I like to think that by the final film in the series, Undercover Maisie, she managed to sort through whatever issues were plaguing her and settle down with Lt. Paul Scott, her love interest in that film, played by Barry Nelson (the first James Bond).