Like so many young women, Nasa (Clara Bow) loves to rebel against her father Pete Springer (Willard Robertson). Or at least the he’s man she believes is her father. Nasa’s real father is a Native American her mother Ruth (Estelle Taylor) was having an affair with until he was forced to marry another woman. Nasa is a very high-spirited and hot-tempered young woman, which drives her father crazy. When he sends her off to a boarding school in Chicago, he hopes they will be able to get her to behave, but instead, she’s as wild as ever.
In a last ditch attempt to get Nasa to clean up her act, Pete tries to force her into marrying a man she doesn’t want to marry and plans to announce their engagement at a big party. Nasa heads him off by inviting notorious playboy Larry Crosby (Monroe Owsley) to the party so she can have someone to cavort with. When Larry’s girlfriend Sunny (Thelma Todd) shows up, she and Nasa get into a brawl. And to top things off, Larry proposes to Nasa after the big fight and they get married right away. That’s the last straw for Pete, who tells Nasa that he never wants to see her again.
Nasa and Larry’s marriage is extremely short lived, though. After Nasa decides she’s done with him, she has a grand time living the high life on Larry’s dime. But when she gets word that Larry is very sick, she goes to see him and Larry attacks her. When she finds out the extent of Larry’s illness, she realizes she can’t count on him anymore. And to make things worse, Nasa is expecting a child. Her baby is born prematurely and she is left to care for him in a run-down boardinghouse. When she needs medication for the baby, she resorts to selling herself to get the money. But while she’s gone, there’s a fire in the building and her baby dies of smoke inhalation.
Even though Nasa has faced terrible tragedies, things start to turn around for her when she gets a visit from her old friend Moonglow (Gilbert Roland). He’s come to tell her that her grandfather has died and left her $100,000. She heads to New York, takes out an ad looking for an escort to accompany her, and meets Jay Randall (Anthony Jowitt) when he responds to her ad. Jay is the son of a millionaire, but keeps that a secret from Nasa, even though she figures it out for herself pretty quickly. Jay loves Nasa, but their relationship ends after his father gets involved. With Jay out of the picture, she gets word that her mother is dying and Nasa heads home to make peace with her past.
I have seen Lifetime movies that aren’t as overly melodramatic as Call Her Savage is. Seriously, what doesn’t this movie have? I think the only way this movie could have been any more dramatic is if they also made Nasa a drug addict. Storywise, Call Her Savage is a bit disjointed. There are times when it switches gears with all the subtlety of a wrecking ball. Like after the scene when Nasa goes to visit Larry when he’s sick and he attacks her, then all of a sudden, Nasa is totally destitute and has a baby. There’s not much of a transition there at all. I also found the whole morality message about the sins of the father being passed on to his children to be really tacked on and forced.
By far, Call Her Savage‘s biggest redeeming quality is Clara Bow’s pure star quality. She really saved this movie. This was the second-to-last movie Clara Bow starred in and based on what I saw here, it’s really too bad she didn’t continue to make more movies. Her voice was fine, her energy was terrific, and her acting was great. This was the first time I saw Clara Bow in a movie that wasn’t a silent film and even though I thought she was great in silents, I actually liked her even more in this. Even if this is the only Clara Bow movie you’ve seen, you’ll have no problem understanding why she was such a big star.