NaBloPoMo 2010

Wild Boys of the Road (1933)

Wild Boys of the Road 1933

Eddie Smith (Frankie Darro) and Tommy Gordon (Edwin Phillips) are a couple of young guys who are, like everybody else in 1933, feeling the pain of the Great Depression.  At first, Eddie’s doing OK since his father has a good job, but Tommy’s mom has been out of work for so long that Tommy has to sneak into a school dance because he can’t afford to pay.  After Tommy gets thrown out of the dance, he tells Eddie that he’s thinking of dropping out of school to look for a job of his own.  Eddie tries to get Tommy a job working for his dad, only to find out his dad has also lost his job.  Eventually, the guys decide to skip town and look for work elsewhere.  They hop on a train, where they meet Sally (Dorothy Coogan), a runaway from Seattle headed to Chicago to live with her aunt.  When they arrive in Chicago, they’re greeted by police turning people away because there aren’t enough jobs in Chicago for the people who already live there.  But since Sally has a letter from her aunt, she’s allowed to stay and she tells the cops that Eddie and Tommy are also family.

Sally, Tommy, and Eddie go to see Sally’s aunt Carrie, who is thrilled to see them.  She invites them in and gives them some cake, but the comfort is short-lived.  Right as they get there, police raid Carrie’s brothel, so they hightail it back to the railroad.  But riding the rails is aw brutal lifestyle.  They’re constantly having to hide from police, girls get raped, and eventually, Tommy looses one of his legs when it’s run over by a train.  When they get to Cleveland, they set up camp and continue to look for work, but Tommy gets pretty depressed because he feels like he’s useless with only one leg.  When the campers are forced out of Cleveland, the three of them make their way to New York and things finally start to look up when Eddie gets a job as an elevator operator.  The only catch is that he needs some new clothes, so they head out to do some panhandling.  While they’re panhandling, some guys approach Eddie with a way for him to make a quick five dollars.  All he had to do was go to a theater ticket booth and hand the worker a note and wait.  He doesn’t realize he’s gotten involved in a robbery and is arrested.  But when Eddie tells the judge about all they’ve been through, the judge takes pity on the kids and helps them instead of sending them to jail or back home.

Pre-code movies were more than just hookers and gangsters, they were also often brutally honest looks at society.  Wild Boys of the Road is a perfect example of that kind of gritty realism that would go unseen again for decades after the pre-code era came to an end.  You definitely can’t accuse William Wellman of trying to glorify riding the rails here.  He is completely unrestrained in showing exactly how dangerous of a life it was.  Even though the movie is going on 80 years old, there are parts of it you can still see playing out in today’s world, especially in this economy.

Scarface (1932)

Scarface 1932

Tony Camonte is a young, ambitious gangster, emphasis on the word ‘ambitious.’  When we first meet him in Scarface, he’s working for gangster Johnny Lovo.  Lovo sends Tony out to bump off Big Louie Costillo, the criminal kingpin who runs the South side of town.  With Costillo out of the picture, Lovo and Tony are the new reigning kings of the South side and supply lots of speakeasies with their bootleg booze.  But soon, Tony sets his sights higher than just running the South side of town.  He also wants to run the North side, but Lovo tells him not to mess with the Irish gangs that run the North side.  Tony doesn’t listen though and starts a gang war.  He manages to take down O’Hara, the original North side gang leader, but then Gaffney (Boris Karloff) takes over and orchestrates a massive attack on a cafe where Tony and his gang are.  Instead of killing him, they just introduce Tony to the exciting world of Tommy guns instead.

Realizing that Tony was completely out of control, Lovo decides the only way to stop him was to put a hit out on Tony.  But once again, Tony manages to escape death and in return, puts a hit out on Lovo.  At last Tony has exactly what he wanted: control of the city, Lovo’s position, and even Lovo’s girlfriend, Poppy.  But now he’s also got his younger sister Cesca (Ann Dvorak) to worry about.  She’s starting to take an interest in her brother’s lifestyle and at first, he’s not happy that she shows up at a nightclub he hangs out at.  But then while he’s out-of-town avoiding the law, she marries Tony’s best friend Guino (George Raft).  When Tony finds out about it, he kills Guino.  Later, when the police track Tony down and are ready for a shoot-out with him, a heartbroken Cesca shows up at Tony’s place ready to kill him.  But once she gets there, she can’t go through with it and instead, gets caught up in the frenzy and helps her brother fight off the police.

Gangster movies in the 1930s were often met with controversy because censorship boards were afraid that they glorified gangsters.  This explains why movies like Scarface and The Public Enemy have those messages at the beginning about how the movie is meant to expose the horrors of being a gangster and condemn that lifestyle.  But in spite of the controversy, three of the greatest gangster movies of all time came out of the early 1930s: Little Caesar, The Public Enemy, and Scarface.  Of the three, I think Scarface is definitely the  most shockingly violent.  What sets Tony Camonte apart from Tom Powers and Rico is Paul Muni’s unrestrained glee.  If he’s being fired at, Tony lights up like a kid in a candy store and truly delights in firing right back.  And am I the only one who finds Tony’s relationship with Cesca to be a little bit weird?  I believed him as the protective older brother when he drags her out of the nightclub, but then when he rips part of her dress off of her struck me as rather creepy.  But perhaps the most shocking thing about Scarface is that it actually has some funny moments in it.  Specifically, when the cafe is being fired at and Tony’s assistant is only concerned with making his phone call instead of the chaos that is going on all around him.

I’ve actually never seen the 1983 version of Scarface, so I don’t know how exactly how it compares, but the 1932 version is most definitely essential viewing for gangster movie fans.  I watched it for the first time specifically to write this review and I’m quite surprised that I managed to go this long without seeing it.

Strangers May Kiss (1931)

Strangers May Kiss 1932 Norma Shearer

Lisbeth Corbin (Norma Shearer) is a forward thinking young woman who isn’t one to bow to social norms.  The expectation that she particularly loathes is the idea that all women want to get married.  She and her boyfriend Alan (Neil Hamilton) are both perfectly happy with not being married.  On the other hand, there’s Steve (Robert Montgomery), Lisbeth’s former lover and current friend.  Steve still loves Lisbeth and repeatedly asks her to marry him, but she’s not budging on the whole “no marriage” thing.  Her anti-marriage stance is further cemented when one evening, she goes out to a nightclub with her aunt Celia and Celia catches her husband cavorting with another woman.  Devastated, Celia throws herself out of her apartment window.  When Alan has to go to Mexico for work, she follows him.  However, she soon learns the real reason Alan is content with not being married: he’s already married to another woman.  To add insult to injury, when Alan is sent on another assignment in Rio de Janeiro, he doesn’t arrange for Lisbeth to come with him.  Instead, he arranges a trip home for her.  Lisbeth is absolutely heartbroken and instead of going home, she goes to Europe, where she becomes famous for being the life of every party.

Two years pass and men are flocking to her left and right, including Steve, who has followed her all over Europe.  Steve still wants to marry her, but she’s even less interested in marriage than before.  She’s still carrying a torch for Alan and when she gets a telegram from him saying that he’s gotten a divorce, she’s thrilled and immediately goes to see him.  Unfortunately, he sent that telegram before he found out about Lisbeth’s new reputation and he is not at all pleased about it.  When she arrives, he refuses to see her.  Lisbeth is heartbroken again, but Steve proposes yet again, and she still turns him down.  The two of them return to New York and resume a relationship, until they run into Alan at the theater one night.  In the time they’ve been apart, Alan has forgiven Lisbeth and once again, Lisbeth goes running right back to him.

I really liked Strangers May Kiss.  The story had some flaws, but it had a good cast.  As always, Norma was fabulous in it.  So very charming, natural, and with just the right amount of vulnerability.  Plus it’s always a joy to see her with Robert Montgomery, who proves to be quite the scene stealer as the eternally boozy Steve.  I’ve been really into watching the 1960s Batman TV series lately, so I was pleasantly surprised to see a young Neil Hamilton in a starring role here.  Too bad I liked him much better as Commissioner Gordon because Alan was a real jerk.  I was definitely rooting for Lisbeth to wind up with Steve over Alan because it’s completely beyond me why anyone would want to end up with Alan.  Charming but tipsy should win out over someone who hides being married any day.  It’s also interesting to see a movie so openly challenging the idea that everybody must get married.  It’s just not an idea put forth too often in movies or on television, especially when it’s a female character.  Strangers May Kiss isn’t a perfect movie, but still very pre-code and worth taking a look at.

Frisco Jenny (1932)

Frisco Jenny 1932 Ruth Chatterton

In 1906, Jenny Sandoval (Ruth Chatterton) was working in a saloon in San Francisco with her father Jim, the owner, and her boyfriend Dan McAllister (James Murray), the piano player.  Jenny and Dan are ready to get married, but Jim isn’t happy about it at all.  As Jenny argues with her father over their decision, the big earthquake of 1906 strikes and both Jim and Dan are killed.  Having no one else to turn to, Jenny makes friends with a Chinese woman named Amah.  We soon find out the reason why Jenny and Dan were in a rush to get married: she was going to have a baby.  Amah helps Jenny take care of her baby, also named Dan, but when Jenny has no money to buy food for Dan, she has to take drastic action.  With help from crooked lawyer Steve Dutton (Louis Calhern), she starts her own brothel.  One night, Jenny and her girls are at a party and Steve and a man named Ed Harris are doing some gambling in another room.  Steve catches Ed cheating and Jenny walks in just in time to see Steve shoot Ed.  Jenny tries to cover for Ed, but she still gets arrested.  When Steve gets her out of jail, she finds out that Dan will be taken away from her because of the whole mess.  Rather than have Dan taken away, Steve arranges for Dan to be given up to a nice, respectable family.

Jenny never stops caring for Dan and watches him grow up from afar.  She keeps a scrapbook of newspaper clippings about him and eventually he grows up to run for District Attorney (adult Dan played by Donald Cook).  However, since Jenny is still running her brothel and has also taken up bootlegging, Dan’s opponent would act more in her best interest.  But Jenny still wants to see Dan win and even orchestrates a scandal for his opponent so he’ll drop out of the race.  Once Dan is officially District Attorney, his first order of business is to put Steve and Jenny out of business.  Steve, desperate to stay out of jail, goes to tell Dan the truth about who his mother is.  But not wanting to ruin Dan’s career, Jenny shoots Steve before he can tell Dan the truth.  Jenny is put on trial and her own son sends her to death row.

Ruth Chatterton is another one of those great actresses from the pre-code era who is sadly underrated today.  Even though Frisco Jenny is quite similar to Ruth’s earlier movie Madame X, which earned her an Oscar nomination, that doesn’t mean it’s not an interesting movie.  Ruth Chatterton once again brought her “A” game and made Jenny very likable and sympathetic, especially in her final scene where she agonizes over whether or not to finally tell Dan that she is his mother.  Ruth got some good help from Louis Calhern, who did a good job of playing smarmy, and director William Wellman.  The movie was entertaining, but as I said, the story’s been done before.  But ultimately, it’s got some good performances and it’s only about 70 minutes long, so I’m willing to forgive the unoriginal story.  I’ll gladly re-watch it just because I liked Ruth Chatterton in it so much.

She Done Him Wrong (1933)

She Done Him Wrong 1933 Mae West

Lady Lou (Mae West) is a lady more than willing to go after any man who can keep her in diamonds.  Her current man is Gus (Noah Beery), a saloon owner and candidate for Sheriff.  Lou thinks he buys her diamonds from the money he makes at the saloon, but in reality, he’s involved in counterfeiting, prostitution, and pickpocketing.  Meanwhile, Dan Flynn is also running for Sheriff and wants to expose Gus for the crook he is, be elected Sheriff, and while he’s at it, get Lou all to himself.  But Gus isn’t the only man to turn to crime to get diamonds for Lou.  Her ex-boyfriend Chick Clark is doing time in prison for stealing diamonds for Lou, and when she goes to see him, he demands that she be faithful to him while he’s serving his time.  Of course, she has no intention of this.

Not only does she have Gus and Dan after her, there’s also Captain Cummings (Cary Grant), who runs the Mission next door to the saloon.  Even if she wouldn’t be getting many diamonds from him, Lou is still very attracted to him.  When she hears the Mission will have to leave because they can’t pay the mortgage, she arranges for it to be paid just to keep him around.  Dan Flynn tips Lou off to a detective called The Hawk who’s planning to raid the club and send Gus to prison, and her along with him if she doesn’t wise up.

Meanwhile, Chick has decided that he can’t bear to be away from Lou any longer and manages to escape.  He shows up at the saloon and wants her to run away with him, but she convinces him that she’s just going to finish performing at the saloon and then she’ll join him.  Of course she has no intention of joining him, but she sends her bodyguard to bring Chick back up to her room.  While she’s performing, she signals Dan to go up to her room as well.  Chick shoots Dan and the next thing Lou knows, the police are raiding the joint.  She also finds out the infamous Hawk is none other than Captain Cummings, who had been doing undercover work in the saloon.  Cummings takes Lou away with the rest of the cast of characters, but she doesn’t go to jail.  He intends to keep her for himself.

There’s no way I could do a month of pre-code movies and not feature a Mae West movie.  Like Jean Harlow, Mae West’s persona and image were tailor-made for the pre-code era.  She was a gold digger, a mantrap, and was the queen of the double entendre.  She Done Him Wrong is Mae West at her finest: bawdy, charismatic, and covered in diamonds.

This is another of Cary Grant’s early movies.  Even though Mae West loved to take credit for discovering Cary Grant, he’d made movies like Blonde Venus and Hot Saturday before She Done Him Wrong.  It’s kind of hard to judge She Done Him Wrong as anything other than a vehicle for Mae West because that’s exactly what it was meant to be.  Everything that happens was meant just to set up a witty line or a saucy comeback from Mae.  Even though it’s great fun and it’s fantastic to see Mae West doing what she does best, I don’t think this really deserved to be a Best Picture nominee.  There were better movies to come out in 1933, but it’s still very enjoyable.

The Story of Temple Drake (1933)

The Story of Temple Drake 1933 Miriam Hopkins

Temple Drake (Miriam Hopkins) is known about town as a fast and loose party girl, but all the men in town know she’s really all talk and no action.  She’s got a suitor in lawyer Stephen Benbow (William Gargan), who has repeatedly asked Temple to marry him, but she doesn’t want to give up her hard partying lifestyle.  She’s also the granddaughter of the town judge, which gets her out of a lot of trouble.  It also helps that her grandfather remains completely oblivious to her wild lifestyle.  One night, she goes out to a party and ends up leaving with Toddy Gowan (William Collier, Jr.) to go get a drink.  Toddy drives even though he’s already been drinking and he ends up wrecking the car.  Stranded, they are met by gangster Lee Gowan, who brings them to a dilapidated mansion full of bootleggers.  The couple is forced to stay there, even though Temple really, really doesn’t want to stay.  She tries to stay in the kitchen with Lee’s wife Ruby, but Ruby doesn’t like her being there because she thinks Temple is trying to steal Lee’s affections.  Unwelcome in the kitchen, Temple tries to go out with the bootleggers.  When a bootlegger tries to make a pass at her, Toddy tries to defend her, but between the head injury he got in the accident and the fact that he’s still drunk, he’s of little help.  Lee, on the other hand, does defend her.  Ruby suggests Temple go sleep in the barn so the men won’t bother her.  She does, and even though the men leave her alone during the night, Trigger comes in the next morning and shoots Tommy, who is supposed to be protecting her, then rapes Temple.  He takes her with him to a brothel and forces her to be his girlfriend.

Meanwhile, Tommy’s murder is under investigation and who else but Stephen is assigned to the case.  Lee is reluctant to name Trigger as the murderer, but Ruby is more than willing to name names and even tells Stephen where to find him.  When Stephen  shows up at the brothel to serve Trigger with a court summons, he’s shocked to find Temple with him.  He tries to get her to leave with him, but to protect Stephen, she tells him that she came with Trigger on her own free will.  Stephen believes it and gives both of them summonses and leaves.  Temple then tries to escape and in the ensuing tussle, she shoots and kills Trigger.  She gets away and heads back to town, where she begs Stephen not to question her in the trial.  Her grandfather also begs him to not put her on the stand, but he does anyway.  However, once he gets her up there, he doesn’t have the heart to interrogate her like he planned to.  However, she finally cracks under the pressure and confesses to everything: what happened the night of the party, witnessing Trigger kill Tommy, being raped, and killing Trigger herself.

The Story of Temple Drake is one of the most scandalous of all the pre-codes, with good reason.  Very few movies deal with the subject of rape as frankly as The Story of Temple Drake.   The only other one I can think of off-hand is Anatomy of a Murder.  Not to mention it has all the classic pre-code elements of a loose woman, gangsters, murder, and violence against women.  When it was first released, it was banned in Ohio and Pennsylvania and it ultimately went completely unseen again until the 1950s.  If they tried to re-make this today, I’m sure it’d still create a huge stir.

I thought The Story of Temple Drake was quite fascinating.  Miriam Hopkins was excellent in it, especially in the scenes following the rape.  I loved that scene where Trigger is driving her away to the brothel and she just sat there with this look of absolute defeat on her face.  To see her go from being a carefree, free-spirited party girl to apparently suffering from Stockholm Syndrome after being raped so effortlessly is really quite remarkable.  I also found the structure of the movie to be quite interesting because it starts out looking like it’ll be a run of the mill pre-code, but then the script suddenly takes on the tone of a horror film.  I felt like I should have watched this a few weeks ago around Halloween.  A couple getting stranded with car problems on a rainy night and are forced into staying the night in a run-down old mansion full of sinister people sure sounds like the beginning of a lot of horror movies.  That’s not even getting into how horrific of a character Trigger is.  Not only is he an awful character, they kept showing him with an evil look on his face in tight close-ups that were really rather terrifying.

The Story of Temple Drake is still a rather hard to find movie, it’s not available on DVD.  At the time of writing this, it is up on YouTube.   If you have any interest in pre-codes at all, it’s absolutely worth tracking down.  It definitely lives up to its reputation of being one of the most infamous pre-codes of all time.

Penthouse (1933)

Penthouse 1933 Myrna Loy Warner Baxter

Jack Durant (Warner Baxter) is a lawyer who relishes taking on cases other lawyers won’t touch.  He loves defending bootleggers, showgirls, and all the other dregs of society, much to the dismay of his law firm partners.  They would much rather work on more respectable cases and fire Jack after he successfully defends the notorious gangster Tony Gazotti.  His fiancée Sue is also not impressed by the company Jack has been keeping and leaves him for Tom Siddall.  But Tom has been seeing Mimi Montagne (Mae Clarke), who is known to hang around with gangsters.  When Sue agrees to marry Tony, she tells him to end things with Mimi.  Mimi is furious and calls up gangster Jim Crelliman and Jim arranges it so Mimi can publicly humiliate Tom at a party.  When Tom shows up at the party, he and Mimi go out onto the balcony.  Next thing anyone knows, there’s a gunshot and Mimi is dead on the balcony with Tom holding a gun.  Of course, Tom is arrested.  The only person who believes Tom is innocent is Sue, who convinces Jack to take the case.  At first he doesn’t want to, but eventually he comes around to it.  He starts investigating the case with a little help from Tony Gazotti and Mimi’s roommate Gertie Waxted (Myrna Loy), a good-hearted call girl.  But in the process of investigating the crime, Jack falls in love with Gertie.

Penthouse is a true pre-code gem.  The writing is very sharp and innuendo filled, it’s full of some fabulous art deco sets, there are some great suspenseful moments, and it’s quite fast paced.  It’s only 90 minutes long and those 90 minutes just fly by.  I really liked Warner Baxter, he seemed to be having so much fun with his role, and I always like Mynra Loy.  Warner and Myrna were naturals together.  It’s like this was Myrna getting practice for The Thin Man, which came out the following year.  Penthouse is a movie that also appeals to so many different genres.  It’s a gangster movie, it’s a murder mystery, it’s got a love story, and it’s a pre-code all rolled into one.  If you see this one come up on TCM, it’s absolutely worth checking out.  It was so much fun to watch, I just love it!

Possessed: The Life of Joan Crawford

Mention the words “Joan Crawford” and “book” in the same sentence and the first thing so many people will think of is, “No more wire hangers!” But on the other hand,  it’s been my experience that many of those who don’t buy into the Mommie Dearest hype often believe that Joan Crawford could do no wrong.  Personally, I’ve never thought it was fair to put Joan squarely in one box or the other.  I’ve always believed that she was a very complex woman and that the true Joan Crawford could likely be found somewhere in between the two extreme views.

Donald Spoto has taken a similar position in his new biography, Possessed: The Life of Joan Crawford.  In Possessed, he paints Joan Crawford as neither a saint or a monster.  Instead, he presents her exactly as I always believed her to be: a very complicated lady.  He does an excellent job of presenting why Joan Crawford deserves to be admired and respected.  She had a miserable childhood: abandoned by her father, her mother favored her brother, she lived in poverty, and she had, at best, a fifth grade education.  Yet she managed to rise above her miserable past and become one of the biggest movie stars in the world, working her way up from the very bottom.  She came to Hollywood with no knowledge of acting or the movie making process, but she came in more than willing to learn and, in the end, became one of the most knowledgeable people in the industry.  Spoto suggests that Joan knew so much about how to make movies that she would have made an excellent director.  I had never thought of that before, but it’s an interesting idea.


Queen Christina (1933)

Queen Christina 1933 Greta Garbo

Who better to play a Swedish queen than the Swedish queen of cinema herself, Greta Garbo?  Christina is crowned Queen of Sweden at the ripe old age of five after her father is killed in battle.  As she grows up, she loves her country so much that she turns down romantic relationships so she can dedicate herself to being the best ruler she can be.  But sometimes, the pressures of being a ruler get to be too much for Christina and she likes to get away.  She dresses in men’s clothing and sneaks out-of-town.  While she’s out, she meets the Spanish envoy, Antonio (John Gilbert), who has gotten stuck in a snowdrift.  She helps him out and she runs into him again that night when they check into the same inn.  But since the inn is so crowded because of the snow, Antonio has to room with Christina.  He doesn’t realize that she’s really a woman until that night.  But when he finds out, he’s very attracted to her.

Christina and Antonio spend a few blissful days at the inn snowed in, but Antonio still doesn’t know that she’s the Queen.  He remains clueless until he arrives at the palace to present his embassy to the Queen.  When one of the Queen’s suitors realizes that Christina prefers Antonio to him, he tells the public that the Queen is in love with a Spaniard.  Everyone gets all riled up about it and Christina decides that she wants to be a regular person.  She wants to live life on her own terms and be free to love whomever she pleases.  She abdicates the throne and decides to go to Spain with Antonio.  Unfortunately, just before he was to leave for Spain, Antonio is fatally wounded in a duel and dies in Christina’s arms.

Queen Christina is one of the most unconventional women in the pre-code era.  First of all, there’s the fact that the real Queen Christina liked both men and women, that wasn’t something made up for the sake of having a more scandalous movie.  Even though she ultimately falls in love with John Gilbert’s character in the movie, we also see her kiss her lady in waiting.  Queen Christina was also famous for behaving in a very masculine way.  She preferred wearing pants and had no desire to get married or have children.  The real Queen Christina abdicated the throne to be able to be an openly practicing Catholic, though, not for love like in the movie.

Christina isn’t the only remarkably pre-code woman in the movie.  Christina’s lady in waiting, Ebba, also likes men and women and is having an affair with Christina as well as a man.  When Christina and Antonio are at the inn for the first night, Elsa helps them settle in and openly flirts with Christina.  When Antonio asks her if she’s a good girl, she replies, “Only when I don’t like someone.”  Such a true pre-code line!  Queen Christina is also one of the few movies I’ve ever seen where the idea of a woman having lots of lovers is actually celebrated.  When Christina and Antonio are at the inn, they witness a couple of guys get into a fight over whether the Queen has had six or nine lovers.  The guy who insisted it was nine thought it was insulting to suggest the Queen had a mere six lovers in one year.  When Christina declares that they’re both wrong, the correct answer is twelve, the whole bar erupts in cheers!

Queen Christina is one of my favorite Garbo talkies.  What made Garbo such a perfect actress for silent films is that she could say so much using only her face, words were completely unnecessary.  The great thing about Queen Christina is that she gets two exquisite, very famous scenes where all she does is emote.  We also get one last chance to see her work with her greatest co-star, John Gilbert.  Again, we see here that his voice and his acting were not the disaster that popular legend might lead you to expect.  Queen Christina took the best elements of Garbo’s silent films and reinvented them for sound.  Garbo and Gilbert still made a great team and Garbo never lost her ability to use her face to tell stories once she started making talkies.  None of the magic had been lost.

Hot Saturday (1932)

Hot Saturday 1932 Cary Grant

If you’ve ever lived in a small town, I’m sure you know how wildly the gossip can fly sometimes.  As Ruth Brock (Nancy Carroll) is about to find out, Marysville is no exception.  Ruth is a flirtatious banker who enjoys going out dancing with the boys, but she’s never a bad girl.  All the guys in town are after her, including the rich playboy Romer Sheffield (Cary Grant), widely thought to be the most dangerous guy in town.  Her mother would much rather see her settle down with her childhood friend Bill Fadden (Randolph Scott), who has just come back to town and is staying at the Brock’s house for the night.  Ruth couldn’t care less about what her mother wants and when Romer Sheffield has a party at his house one Saturday, she gladly goes with Conny (Edward Woods) as her date.  But once they get to the party, she spends some time alone with Romer.  Even though nothing happens, Conny becomes immensely jealous.  Later, Conny and Ruth go for a late-night boat ride and when Conny makes a move on her, she turns him down and walks back to Romer’s house.  She stays with Romer for a few hours before his chauffeur drives her home.

Ruth’s friend Eva sees her come home in his car and immediately assumes the most scandalous possibility.  Once Eva talks to Conny and finds out how long Ruth spent with Romer, rumors tear through Marysville like wildfire and destroy Ruth’s life.  People shun her, her mother is furious at her for disgracing the family, and she even loses her job at the bank.  Not knowing what else to do, she goes out to where Bill is working to see him.  He declares his love for her and they decide to get married ASAP.  Ruth’s family is happy, her friends are happy, and Ruth is happy again.  But when Bill finally hears about the vicious rumors going around about Ruth, they get into a big fight and Ruth heads back to Romer’s place and decides to live up to her reputation.  Bill comes to apologize the next day, but she decides to break it off with him.

I really enjoyed Hot Saturday.  Absolutely worth checking out.  It’s definitely a movie that’s aged pretty well.  Not only has gossip not gone anywhere in the past 78 years, but considering how stories keep turning up in the news about people losing their jobs over things they say in their blogs or on Facebook, I’d say it’s just as relevant as ever.  Nancy Carroll gave a great performance and gets a lot of help from a great supporting cast.  I was impressed by how much Cary Grant had improved since Blonde Venus, especially since he made Hot Saturday right after Blonde Venus.  He seemed much more confident here.  Either William A. Seiter gave him more direction than Josef von Sternberg did or Cary had done a lot of work coming into his own, I’m not sure which, but it was a step in the right direction.