The Greeks Had a Word for Them has a pretty straightforward story: Three former showgirl friends, Schatzi (Joan Blondell), Polaire (Madge Evans), and Jean (Ina Claire), are all determined to land themselves some rich men. They all live together and share pretty much everything: jewelery, clothes, and even men. Well, they don’t exactly share the men as much as they steal them. Jean is particularly unscrupulous about making a move for her friends’ men. She even goes as far as to plant one of her necklaces on Polaire just as she’s about to meet her rich fiance’s father to make her look like a thief. Jean does manage to snag Justin, Polaire’s fiance’s father, and is all set to marry him, but backs out at the last-minute because she doesn’t want to give up her fun, single life and heads to Paris with Polaire and Schatzi.
If a movie about three gold digging friends, one of whom is named Schatzi, sounds familiar, that’s because you probably best remember it as How to Marry a Millionaire starring Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall, and Betty Grable. But much like The Letter and Waterloo Bridge, the pre-code version is quite significantly different from the production code era version. In fact, I’d say the only real similarities between the two movies are the fact that they’re both about three gold digging friends, some of the names are similar, one person backs out of a wedding, and only one of them ends up with a rich man in the end. In the 1953 version, all the women set out to land rich men on their own, but in the 1932 version, the three friends are constantly stealing each others’ men. There was so much backstabbing and man stealing going on between them, it’s beyond me why these three ladies stayed friends. Well, at least I don’t get why they stayed friends with Jean anyway. If they were really serious about trying to land rich men, considering how incredibly ruthless Jean was, I’d think they’d want to keep her far, far away from their men. The pre-code version is also much boozier and full of scenes where the ladies are seen wearing their slips for absolutely no real reason.
Even though I thought it was pretty fun and entertaining, I wouldn’t call it one of my favorites. I actually preferred How to Marry a Millionaire to this version. I mostly just found the character of Jean so very unlikable. I know she was supposed to be a very over the top character, but yikes! Like I said, the fact that these two women wanted to be friends with such an awful woman is totally baffling to me. Maybe if they had been able to go with their original choice of Jean Harlow for that part, she might have been able to give the character some more charm. On the whole, the movie wasn’t bad. I’d watch it again if nothing else was on, but I don’t know if I’d go out of my way to watch it again. But if you do watch it, be sure to keep an eye out for Betty Grable’s bit part as a hat check girl!