The Strange Love of Molly Louvain (1932)

For all her life, Molly Louvain (Ann Dvorak) has been treated like a second class citizen.  Her mother abandoned her when she was a baby and everyone in town assumes she’s nothing but a good-for-nothing tramp just like her mother was.  But Molly is determined to rise above it all and at last, she thinks she’s found what she’s been looking for in Ralph Rogers (Don Dillaway).  Ralph comes from a wealthy family and been having an affair with Molly and he’s in love with her and wants to introduce her to his family.  However, Molly’s happiness is shattered when he suddenly leaves town and leaves her behind expecting a child.

Molly works by selling cigars in a hotel, which is where she meets a young bellhop named Jimmy Cook (Richard Cromwell).  Jimmy absolutely adores Molly, but she only sees him as a friend.  When Molly decides to leave town, she runs off with Nicky Grant (Leslie Fenton), a traveling salesman and thief.  Three years pass and Molly now has a daughter she adores, but she can’t deal with Nicky’s shady dealings anymore and leaves him.  She gets a job as a dance hostess at a local club, and one night, in walks Jimmy Cook.

She and Jimmy leave the club to catch up with each other, but Nicky sees them and makes them get into a car, which it turns out, has been stolen and used in a robbery.  The police catch up with them when Nicky stops at a store and Molly is left to drive away.  Nicky is arrested, but now the police are after Molly, too.  She dyes her hair and she and Jimmy get out of town and they end up living in a boarding house along with reporter Scotty Cornell (Lee Tracy).  It just so happens that Scotty’s pet story is the police’s search for Molly Louvain.

Even though Scotty is extremely attracted to Molly, he fails to realize who she really is.  He also isn’t as serious about her as Jimmy is, who plans to marry her.  When Scotty hears this, he tells Molly that being with Jimmy would only mean unhappiness for them both, and she backs out of her marriage plans.  But then Scotty works with the police on a plan to catch Molly by announcing that her daughter was very sick.  Sure enough, the plan works and Molly turns herself in.  Scotty is shocked to find out who Molly is, but when he sees just how much Molly loves her daughter, he vows to help clear her name and give her the life she’s always dreamed of.

Gotta love a good Ann Dvorak pre-code.  She gives it her all in Molly Louvain and makes a  movie with an average story one worth seeing.  As great as Dvorak is in it, I’ve got to give credit to Lee Tracy for being able to keep up with her.  Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending and thought Molly would be better off with Jimmy, it was hard for me to fault Molly for choosing Scotty when Lee Tracy brought so much charisma to the character.  Jimmy may have had the best intentions, but compared to Scotty, he’s about as interesting as a piece of plain white bread.

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