Fading Fast

Connoisseur
hold_your_man_-_h_-_1933-928x523.jpg

Hold Your Man from 1933 with Clark Gable and Jean Harlow

This is not an easy movie to categorize as it's a full-throttle pre-code story about two grifters - Gable and Harlow - who meet and deny that they are falling in love, but it ends with a Christianity redemption moment delivered by one of the era's most-oppressed people.

At first, after meeting and hooking up, Gable and Harlow act like they kinda don't care about each other and just go on grifting and sort of living together. But you know Harlow cares as when one of Gable's ex-girlfriends shows up, a girl-fight ensues: the ex-girlfriend slaps Harlow who counters with a left jab that knocks the ex back hard...girlfight over, Harlow won.

But it takes much more trouble for Gable and Harlow to see what they mean to each other. When Harlow is sent to a women's reform prison (more dorm-like than prison), she discovers she's pregnant with Gable's baby. Stop there for a second to ponder what 1933 Hollywood has just offered up: Two criminals conceive a baby out of wedlock with the pregnant and still-unwed mother now in prison - holy smokes.

Harlow, because she doesn't want to be "that girl," the kind that gets a man by guilt, keeps this a secret from Gable (she won't wear a bra, but for the important things, the girl does have her values). Meanwhile, not much reform is happening initially to Harlow in prison, but she does befriend a fellow black inmate who is a preacher's daughter.

(Spoiler alerts) And just when all hope looks lost, Gable learns of Harlow's condition and risks his own freedom by coming to see her in prison. After some angry words and confusion and with the police coming to arrest Gable, he and Harlow attempt to get married on the fly with the only preacher available being Harlow's black friend's father who is visiting his daughter that day.

So we have a wonderful moment of Christian salvation as Harlow and Gable want to "legitimize" their baby and give it a chance for a decent life as both of them commit to "going straight." And this is all overseen and encouraged by a black preacher who believes in the kindness-and-forgiveness form of Christianity as it is implied that he knows how unfair and hard life can be. And being black in 1933, we have no doubt that he does.

So, to recap, two street-level criminals have casual sex resulting in a baby that leads to an in-prison spiritual epiphany by a pregnant mom and an on-the-lam father all shepherded by a black preacher with a convict daughter. This is a two-fisted pre-code with a bracing shot of religion. It might not fit in a typical Hollywood box, and it's clunky as heck by today's standards, but give MGM credit for making a gritty movie with a quietly subversive social and racial message wrapped inside a redemption story.

N.B., If you do watch it, look for Gable's line during his impromptu prison wedding to Harlow. With the police bearing down on them, Gable, knowing this will be his only chance to marry a pregnant-with-his-baby Harlow, tries to hurry up the preacher (attempting to conduct a proper marriage ceremony) with this comment, "can't you skip some of it and just marry us?" Who says romance was dead in 1933?
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
The-Hard-Way-001_card.jpg

The Hard Way from 1943 with Ida Lupino, Dennis Miller, Joan Leslie and Jack Carson

They packed a lot into this classic story of a struggle to escape a hardscrabble existence. Older sister Ida Lupino sees her talented teenage singer/actress younger sister, Joan Leslie, as their ticket out of a dreary steel town. So, she leaves her reasonably decent steel-worker husband - nothing gets in Lupino's way in this one - and takes Leslie on the road to start her career.

There, they meet the struggling vaudeville team of Dennis Miller and Jack Carson. Seeing an opportunity, ruthless Lupino steers Leslie into a marriage to Carson. Miller, a good-guy playboy - he has a fun woman in every town - sees through Lupino, but can't stop the ill-fated marriage nor Lupino's passive-aggressive efforts to push him out.

While palliated for the code, Lupino, who is physically attracted to handsome Miller, has - and this is the phrase for - hate sex with Miller, but she's still hurt when he brushes her off afterwords. And he's not wrong, as she's been awful to him and Carson, so he leaves Lupino and the act.

Worse still, later, as Leslie's star starts to rise, Lupino manipulates a separation for Leslie from, now, not-needed Carson even though the marriage is working (spoiler alert) causing Carson to commit suicide. Again, nothing will get in Lupino's way to turn her sister into a star.

Next up, Lupino, effectively, destroys the last career chance of a fading Broadway star just to create an opportunity for her sister. It's a gut-wrenching scene as Lupino "befriends" the older actress and, then, gets this battling-alcoholism woman drunk before her key rehearsal: old star out, sister in.

Finally, though, after being her sister's pawn all these years, Leslie pushes back and takes a vacation without Lupino at a resort where she accidentally meets Miller, who has, since their split years ago, become a successful bandleader. We are now at the movie's money moment as the man Lupino pushed aside to advance her sister's career, the same man Lupino slept with and was hurt when he, then, brushed her off, has a genuine love affair with Lupino's sister.

By the time Lupino gets to the resort, Miller and Leslie plan to marry, which sparks one last successful machination from Lupino. She guilts her sister back to the stage and away from Miller with the old saw about "how much I sacrificed for you," and she reminds her sister that all their money is tied up in the new show.

But the spell's been broken and Leslie, after one night where she collapses on stage, quits the play and marries Miller. Phew, as noted, a lot happens, but really very little could be a spoiler alert as the movie opens with Lupino - well dressed - attempting suicide. Then, dying in a hospital, the story is told through flashbacks until, in the very final scene, we learn if Lupino makes it or not.

It's a shame that the suicide construct begins and ends the movie as this solid, albeit, well-tread story stands on its own without the awkward suicide framing. Regardless, it's a good almost two-hours of watching a ruthless woman pull her sister and herself up from poverty by mercilessly ploughing down every obstacle in their way. And as she does, your sympathies switch several times - as happens often in real life.


I can't call this a post script or a nota bene as it's too ugly. Early in the movie, there is an almost tossed-off line delivered by the manager of a theater who offers to help the struggling vaudeville team of Miller and Carson out even though he has to let them go as they aren't drawing a crowd.

The manager is trying hard to strike a fair balance between his business needs and being a good guy to the team. But when the team rejects his offer of help - not in anger, but pride - almost to himself, the theater manager says (paraphrasing), "when this gets out, people will say 'dirty Heb'," clearly referring to himself.

That's it, the movie moves on without any further note of that comment. But you know, that line didn't wander into the movie by itself, so someone - a writer, director, producer - wanted to make a point about antisemitism. Even under the Motion Picture Production Code, some poignant social commentary made it into movies, often, in a quiet but effective way.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
tenor-4.gif

The Natural from 1984 with Robert Redford, Glen Close, Robert Duvall, Wilford Brimley and Kim Basinger
  • It's the fourth or fifth time I've seen it and, while I enjoy it, I'm, also, always a bit disappointed

  • It has the look and feel of (nostalgic) classic baseball

  • It also has a story about corruption, money, gambling and throwing games that echoes the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal

  • But instead of telling that fascinating and true story, it tells an opaque fictional tale about a brilliant young prospect who is shot in a hotel room by a mysterious woman, which takes him out of baseball until he attempts a comeback sixteen years later - huh, what?

  • And that's the fail as the story is never fully explained and feels pointless, so you're always scratching your head a bit

  • Watch it for the beautiful period details and nostalgic-baseball vibe, while paying only enough attention to the story to follow its outline



thehumancomedy1943.218.jpg

The Human Comedy from 1943 with Mickey Rooney, Frank Morgan, James Craig, Donna Reed and Van Johnson
  • Based on the excellent William Saroyan book by the same name (comments here: #818 ) the movie is faithful to the book, but struggles a bit to capture the novel's whimsy, pathos and spirituality

  • As a slice of life story about a California family during WWII - father passed away, traditional mother, older brother off to war, middle brother (Rooney) takes a job to help the family out, sister is coming of age, youngest brother still in the wonderment years - the movie is propaganda in a "we're fighting for this wholesome way of life" approach, but is also a warm picture of a modest family doing what all families do - live, love, argue, make up, go forward

  • And perhaps that's why the movie struggles a bit as movies prefer traditional story arcs with a conflict followed by resolution, not touching vignettes evoking an uplifting feeling

  • What little traditional story there is here centers around the middle boy's job as a messenger for a telegraph office, which allows him and us to see all the highs and lows of life

  • But we also see schools where teachers are, basically, respected, kids raised "free range" style, a kiss being a big deal to teenagers and religion questioned but still woven into the daily life of the community

  • No surprise, the book is better, but after a bumpy start, the movie finds its legs and is worth the watch (with a particularly impressive and nuanced performance by Mickey Rooney - not a line I write often)

  • N.B., look for (1) the reverse snobbery scene where the "radical" telegraph business owner expects to hate his fiance's upper-class family but comes to realize that his prejudices and not theirs are the problem and (2) the sympathetic portrayal of an older alcoholic (Morgan)
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
72de4a29bb3e58b34791b5e199b93d84.jpg

Take Care of My Little Girl from 1951 with Jeanne Crain, Dale Robertson and Jeffery Hunter

While this rich-kids-at-college movie never rises much above the level of a made-for-TV movie, it does throw some hard punches at the, as presented here, cliquish and snobbish world of sororities.

Sorority legacy student, Jeanne Crain, is enthusiastic to join her mother's sorority. Pretty, from the "right" family and with the "right" wardrobe, she's a shoo-in for the best sorority. However, some of her friends - a lifelong bestie and a new friend she just met upon arriving at college - are less-certain candidates owing to family background, finances, personalities, etc.

Additionally, Jeanne starts dating a decidedly not-fraternity boy, Dale Robertson, who, having deferred college owing to the war, serves as a voice of reason and maturity to Jeanne's newbie enthusiasm. However, she is also dating one of the big fraternity boys, Jeffery Hunter, who boosts her chances of acceptance.

And just when you think this is all fluff, the fraternity boyfriend asks her to help him cheat on a critical final (since it's still rush-week, the timeline is inconsistent, but heck, they had a point to make), which, surprisingly she does and is lauded by the sorority for "beating the system."

It's surprisingly callous and immoral that the sorority girls just laugh cheating off - so much for the "wholesome fifties." Even when I went to college in the '80s, there was still a vestige of the "honor code" left as cheating was seen, rightfully, as a major offense that could lead to expulsion.

The climax of Take Care of My Little Girl comes as the "pledges" are hazed and pushed out (asked to depledge), voted out or like Jeanne, accepted. Still struggling a bit with her decision to help her boyfriend cheat and, now, seeing good friends rejected for not having the "right" clothes, background or "just so" personality, Jeanne has the epiphany moment you knew was coming.

(Spoiler alert, I guess) After much thought and discussion and amidst plenty of pressure from the sorority (and her mother) to just say "yes" and join, Jeanne turns the sorority down as she no longer wants to be part of its (our modern term for it) elitist world.

Okay, it's a message movie that completes its mission with gusto. Heck, if accurate, these sorority girls can be so mean to each other and, worse, to those not in a sorority, that any rebuke they get seems earned.

But there's also this: at one level, you do feel bad for the girls who get emotionally crushed when they get rejected as, yes, teenagers are impressionable and insecure, but part of "adulting" is learning to take rejection while keeping things in perspective. Even teenagers should be able to realize that not getting into a sorority is a bump in the road, not a dead-end.

Unless it's your specific cup of tea, I'd recommend passing on this one, but would encourage you to see a much, much better variation on the sorority theme in 1939's These Glamour Girls (comments here: #24172)
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
441dc4b401c6a15059da8792ae6757ec.jpg

Play Girl from 1932 with Loretta Young, Norman Foster and Guy Kibbee
  • A fast sixty minute pre-code about a smart young woman (Young), with no desire to marry, trying to make a career for herself in a department store

  • She then meets a charming salesman (Foster) and, after a setback at work, agrees to marry him only to learn he's really a gambler who pings from being broke to "in the money" regularly - the opposite of the stable life she wanted and he promised

  • Then, of course, she gets pregnant, he says he'll get a real job, a misunderstanding leads to a split and Young is back at the department store, but with a baby on the way

  • Things then get really crazy as Young, all along against gambling, kinda gets hooked on gambling herself, loses her job and is all but destitute until the forced ending, which we'll leave unsaid for those who want to see the movie

  • A few fun things to look for are the great time travel to a 1933 department store and an even neater look at an illegal gambling joint complete with tote boards, cashier windows, touts and a police raid

  • These fast, low-budget pre-code movies are really more like one-hour TV dramas than motion pictures, but looked at that way, they are quick, enjoyable stories where you can see young actresses, like Loretta Young, before they became major stars
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
f-PurpleRose.jpg

The Purple Rose of Cairo from 1985 with Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels and Danny Aiello

The creative idea employed here of having an actor, in a movie within a movie, "walk out of the screen" and into the audience to interact with real-live people is cool and innovative. And, in some scenes, director Woody Allen leverages this stratagem for all its comedic and plot potential, but the overall story still falls flat.

A Depression-era wife, Mia Farrow, now supporting her layabout and abusive husband, Danny Aiello, by working in a diner, escapes her weary reality by regularly going to the movies. There, she sees a world of wealthy, well-dressed and well-fed beautiful people living in luxurious homes and penthouses, driving shiny new cars and taking exotic vacations. [Side note: the massive number of movies made during the Depression about people living wealthy, luxurious lives argues that Farrow's character was a quite common reality in the '30s.]

And then, one day, it happens: a character - a handsome explorer, Jeff Daniels - walks right out of the screen and up to Mia Farrow because he's seen here in the theater watching his movie, The Purple Rose of Cairo, so many times. Mimicking movie romance, these two immediately fall in love, but have to navigate both the obstacles facing a movie character, now, living in the real world and Farrow being married.

When movie-character-now-in-the-real-world Daniels discovers his movie money isn't any good and that restaurant reservations don't just magically happen or when he notes how, of course, his hair is always perfect even after fights or adventures, the movie's charm and whimsy quotient takes off. Similarly, when he accidentally finds himself in a real-world bordello, his square-jawed, movie-hero-innocense view of the world's oldest profession is movie gold.

Further, when the producers of the movie back in Hollywood get word that a star has walked off the screen, they acknowledge they had always worried about this and begin a plan to pull the movie from all theaters before it becomes "a thing:" what would they do if actors everywhere just walked out of the movies? Real business Hollywood metaphors are easy to see as the "money" people in the studio era are forced to acknowledge the value of actors.

And why would a character walking out of a movie to live in the real world become a thing? Well, the other actors in the movie - who now are just hanging around waiting for Daniels to return before the movie can resume - discuss it as an option, but most seem to prefer the safe predictability of their movie universe. Compared to living in the real-world Depression at that time, they might just be right.

All this kinda crazy parallel-world stuff is the movie's joy and energy, but it gets weighed down by a plodding love story between Farrow and movie-character Daniels that becomes a plodding love triangle when the real-life Daniels - the actual actor and not the one that walked off the screen - shows up in town to try to coax his character doppleganger to return to the screen. He, like his character, falls immediately in love with Farrow and has to compete with his screen persona for her affections.

The movie devotes its main energies to this uninteresting real-life man / movie character / real-life woman love triangle, which is really just two takes on the same metaphor about those who try to escape their humdrum lives through movie-inspired daydreams. Because of this, the unique tale of a movie character "escaping" the screen to live in the real world gets less attention and development than it deserves.

The climax and ending are disappointing as the settling of the love triangle feels rushed and forced; while at the same time, the true charm of the movie - a screen character attempting to live in the real world - is tied up neatly but without any clear explanation. And the movie's big message that studios are just dream factories seems hardly worth the effort.

Being a 1980s movie, the period details are uneven and the film quality has already deteriorated, but still, the cool plot innovation provides so much fun when it's the focus, that it's worth seeing this movie at least once even if it did too little with its smart idea. I know it's been riffed on since (The Truman Show is one variation), but there still seems to be an opportunity to take Woody Allen's fun idea and develop it into a more engaging movie.
 

TKI67

Super Member
Despite the off putting title we watched Beautiful Girls the other night. It got progressively better and better and on balance was an engaging flick. Timothy Hutton, Uma Thurman, a very young Natalie Portman, Anna Beth Gish, Matt Dillon, Mira Sorvino, Rosie O'Donnell. Sort of a bit of Garden State, a bit of Diner, and a fun nod to Lolita.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
Despite the off putting title we watched Beautiful Girls the other night. It got progressively better and better and on balance was an engaging flick. Timothy Hutton, Uma Thurman, a very young Natalie Portman, Anna Beth Gish, Matt Dillon, Mira Sorvino, Rosie O'Donnell. Sort of a bit of Garden State, a bit of Diner, and a fun nod to Lolita.
I remember seeing this one when it came out and liking it, but don't remember much about it other than that Uma Thurman was gorgeous. I did notice it was in rotation on HBO, so with your endorsing post, I think I'll give it a second watch.
 

The Great Garbanzo

Starting Member
Sorry, I could not read through the entire thread but two of my favorites that I will re watch anytime, no matter where in the movie I happen to tune in are:

Going My Way, (Bing Crosby), and The Devil Wears Prada.

Short list on long stay on deserted Island:


Hunt for Red October
Crimson Tide
The Sum of All Fears
Dark Knight-- Heath Ledger was otherworldly
Senna-Didn't care for him as a driver but good flick
1- Another F-1 movie
We are Marshall
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
Sorry, I could not read through the entire thread but two of my favorites that I will re watch anytime, no matter where in the movie I happen to tune in are:

Going My Way, (Bing Crosby), and The Devil Wears Prada.

Short list on long stay on deserted Island:


Hunt for Red October
Crimson Tide
The Sum of All Fears
Dark Knight-- Heath Ledger was otherworldly
Senna-Didn't care for him as a driver but good flick
1- Another F-1 movie
We are Marshall
We seem to have similar tastes in movies. With the exception of "Senna" I have seen every movie on your list....all great flicks! ;)
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
tumblr_mrswi3jy6R1qd3nk9o1_1280.png

Kitty Foyle from 1940 with Ginger Rogers, Dennis Miller and James Craig

My journey to watching this movie a second time started with me watching this movie a few years back. I could "feel" that there was a better story behind it - meaning the Motion Picture Production Code had mangled it - so I bought the book it was based on.

The 1939 book is outstanding in a real-life way (comments here: #798 ). There's a lot of not-code-approved stuff going on in the book - sex and pregnancy out of wedlock, an abortion, working women supporting themselves in careers by choice, interfaith relationships and more - and none of it is gratiutious or salacious. It just reminds us that life was always way-more messy, expansive and complicated than code-enforced movies allowed.

So, after the book, I returned to the movie to see if there was more here than I remembered. Unfortunately, there really isn't, as the code strangled this story to death. I'm good at code-speak, but I still struggled to see through all the obfuscation; at some point, it's just too much.

The very broad outlines of the story are still there in the movie. Kitty Foyle is a young girl from working-class Philadelphia who falls in love with an uber-society, "Mainline" boy, which, apparently, means everything in Philadelphia at that time. After several attempts at making their relationship work, but failing, Kitty decamps to New York City for a fresh start where she builds a career in marketing for a cosmetics firm. There, she begins to date a young doctor, but Philly boy keeps popping in and out of her life, buffeting Kitty's attempts to make a clean break and start anew in New York.

Using that outline, the movie starts near the end with, in the opening scene, Kitty having to decide between marrying the doctor or having an affair with her now-married Mainline love. Then, through flashbacks, the movie shows how Kitty got to that point.

But so much of Kitty's and her society man's background are left out and so much is "cleaned" up for the movie code, that the characters' motivations are obscured and life experiences elided. In the end, not much of the book's engaging story is left. Sadly, Kitty's really well-handled interfaith relationship in the book - she's Catholic, her New York boyfriend is Jewish - is scrubbed out of the movie.

One good thing that made it to the movie is the scene where Kitty basically tells the Mainline family - who is willing to accept her if she's willing to adopt their social customs and manners - to shove it. We all love a good "go to hell" comeuppance for the old guard and it's well done here, but also sneaking in - both in the book and the movie - is that the family isn't really that snobbish or bad. They sincerely like Kitty and want to embrace her; however, they can't see completely past the norms of their insular culture to say "come as you are," but still, they did genuinely invite her in.

Ginger Rogers gives her all as Kitty and it's a good performance as is James Craig's as the doctor boyfriend, but Dennis Morgan comes across as wooden as the love of her life. That said, with the movie stripped of so much that made the book good, the fault in the movie lies with the Motion Picture Production Code destroying the verisimilitude and nuance of the story and not with the actors.

I clearly devoted too much effort to this Kitty Foyle exercise, so to benefit from my experience, just read the book.
 

TKI67

Super Member
We watched The Gentlemen last night (Matthew McConaughey, Michele Dockery, Charlie Hunnam, Hugh Grant, Jeremy Strong, Henry Golding, Eddie Marsan, and loads more). Matthew McConaughey plays an expat in England who has a rather incredible Mary Jane empire. When he goes to sell it, an incredible series of intrigues to jack with the sale is set in motion, laying the groundwork for an hilarious, gripping, complex story told beautifully by the characters. Many you might have long felt hopelessly hemmed in by type casting show some real range, especially Hugh Grant. Great fun and sufficiently loaded with details to merit rewatching. Fans of clothing will be treated to spectacular wardrobes well assembled and carried off. The soundtrack is terrific.
 
Last edited:

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
0478c68117283d97e1ca2cb4cd532f27.jpg

College Humor from 1933 with Bing Crosby (!), Mary Carlisle and Jack Oakie
  • Early entry in the almost-always busy college-movie genre

  • Not a musical in the traditional sense (dialogue and action played out in song and dance), but a movie with several musical numbers performed as part of the story by up-and-coming crooner Bing Crosby (still perfecting his laid-back acting style)

  • Like most college movies, albeit in a '30s way, it's about boys and girls chasing each other, kids (and some helicopter parents, yup, they existed back then, too) worrying or not about grades and their future, plus tests, cheating, sports, clothes, fraternities and drinking - you know, a college movie

  • Being the '30s, a coed is openly dating a teacher; he's young and not married, but I would think that's still a complete no-no today

  • The uber-importance of football obviously started early as we see intense pressure on the players, "bending" of the rules for star athletes and the administration kowtowing to big-donor alumni who want a winning team

  • Drama amps up a bit when a star athlete is expelled for drinking and a teacher who defends him gets fired, but still, College Humor is mainly a fun romp and early look at college life




walter-pidgeon-rosalind-russell-design-for-scandal-1941-BP9XD6.jpg

Design for Scandal from 1941 with Walter Pidgeon, Rosalind Russell and Edward Arnold
  • While billed as a screwball comedy, it's more like a romcom as there isn't too much screwballness going on, but there's plenty of silly romcomness happening

  • Pidgeon, a reporter, tries to help his boss, Arnold, get some dirt on a female judge, Russell, who ruled against Arnold in a divorce case

  • The plot these two idiots hatch is to have Pidgeon get close to Russell by romancing her so that he can then tarnish her reputation - you know, silly, stupid romcom stuff

  • While it has a few good moments, Pidgeon and Russell never develop any real chemistry as comedy is not Pidgeon's forte and the script is forced and flat

  • The highlight of the film is Arnold, once again, playing a morally challenged tycoon who pushes everyone around, including his gold-digging ex-wife, but, as usually happens to him, everything, eventually, blows up in his face

  • I'm a Rosalind Russell fan, but even she never finds her real grove in this one perhaps because she's stuck with a hairdo that looks like she was auditioning for the role of an alien on Star Trek
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
We watched The Gentleman last night (Matthew McConaughey, Michele Dockery, Charlie Hunnam, Hugh Grant, Jeremy Strong, Henry Golding, Eddie Marsan, and loads more). Matthew McConaughey plays an expat in England who has a rather incredible Mary Jane empire. When he goes to sell it, an incredible series of intrigues to jack with the sale is set in motion, laying the groundwork for an hilarious, gripping, complex story told beautifully by the characters. Many you might have long felt hopelessly hemmed in by type casting show some real range, especially Hugh Grant. Great fun and sufficiently loaded with details to merit rewatching. Fans of clothing will be treated to spectacular wardrobes well assembled and carried off. The soundtrack is terrific.
Could not agree more with your review. My comments on it here #402

As you note, can't wait to watch it again.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
MV5BMTkzN2I5NGMtOWM1Yi00NGI1LWI3ZWMtMjdhMGQzYjE3NWUyXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjIyNjE2NA@@._V1_.jpg

Million Dollar Baby from 1941 with Priscilla Lane, May Robson, Jeffery Lynn and Ronald Reagan

It's an early entry in the "working-class man or woman is gifted/inherited/wins a million dollars" genre. The premise here is that an eccentric, wealthy older woman, May Robson, discovers that some of her fortune was originally obtained, decades ago, by her father embezzling from his partner, so she sets out to right the wrong.

Robson is pitch perfect as a rich, but pragmatic octogenarian used to getting her way as, early on, she rebukes her affable and young lawyer, Jeffery Lynn, to give her the facts without any "wherases or wherefores -" who hasn't wanted to say that to a lawyer?

A quick search for an heir of her father's wronged partner, led by lawyer Lynn, leads Robson to Hollywood's perfect version of the girl next door, Priscilla Lane. Happy and optimistic Lane lives in a boarding house, works in a department store and dates a somewhat-radical piano player, (future president) Ronald Reagan, trying to break into classical music.

Upon learning of her good fortune, Lane is half happy and half suspicious, so, in one of the movie's better scenes, she all but tells a stuffy banker, at the bank where her money is being held, that she doesn't trust his bank with her new-found wealth. She even makes him show her some of the bank's physical money and demands a tour of the vault.

It is a wonderful moment of common sense cutting through pompous speech (like earlier, when Robson upbraided her solicitor for using "lawyer-speak"). A country less than ten years removed from hundreds of bank failures would appreciate Lane's skepticism.

And Lane, who sees the money as an end to her and boyfriend Reagan's struggle, is surprised when Reagan expresses happiness for her good fortune, but tells her they are over as a couple as he won't live off of her and that their two worlds no longer meet. Meanwhile, lawyer Lynn, who has been guiding Lane through the wrinkles her new-found wealth creates, is falling for Lane.

From here, it's a bunch of '30s/'40s movie cliches - Lane gives a lot of the money away to the other needy residents in the boarding house while, separately, she is also taught "proper" upper-class ways to fit into society, which she, then, finds stuffy and boring. It's not hard to understand why these bromides were popular with Depression Era audiences: a shared windfall has serious political overtones and mocking the ways of the wealthy might be the oldest movie stereotype of them all.

You can probably guess the ending of both the Lane-Lynn-Reagan love triangle (I thought Lane chose the wrong guy) and Lane's windfall itself, but the fun is seeing Lane cutely and innocently stumble her way to the outcome. The movie is charm over substance, but, with several witty lines and scenes and strong performances from Robson, Lynn and Lane, it's a reasonable way to spend an hour and forty minutes. Plus there's some great footage of a Clipper "flying boat" landing at LaGuardia Field's Marine Air Terminal.
 
Your email address will not be publicly visible. We will only use it to contact you to confirm your post.

IMPORTANT: BEFORE POSTING PLEASE CHECK THE DATE OF THE LAST POST OF THIS THREAD. IF IT'S VERY OLD, PLEASE CONSIDER REGISTERING FIRST, AND STARTING A NEW THREAD ABOUT THIS TOPIC.