Congo Maisie (1940)

Genres - Comedy  |   Release Date - Jan 19, 1940 (USA)  |   Run Time - 70 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

The second in the Maisie series of films, Congo Maisie reveals the basic flaw in these movies: there's really nothing much to them beyond Ann Sothern. Unlike some other series -- those featuring Sherlock Holmes or The Falcon, for example -- there's not really an overarching reason for the Maisie films to exist. This puts a bigger burden on the writers; the star is going to give it her all in each episode, but the degree to which she and the individual films are effective depend upon what the writers give Sothern to work with. In Congo, the writers come up with a situation -- put Maisie in the jungles of Africa -- and little else, but it's enough to make the film moderately amusing. Certainly, Sothern has a grand time with the fish-out-of-water setting, although she also makes sure that her Maisie is never too uncomfortable out of water. Indeed, that's one of the nice things about the star's persona -- she may not fit in everywhere, but she's not one to let that bother her terribly much. Her gumption, wisecracking, and resilience are a delightful combination, and Sothern gives Congo her all -- even when enacting a carnival barker and resorting to cheap tricks to keep the natives distracted. Congo Maisie is supposedly a remake of Red Dust, but it's really just an excuse to let Sothern run around the screen for a while. It doesn't make for great cinema, but it's diverting enough.