Regis Toomey

She Had to Say Yes (1933)

In the midst of the Great Depression, companies are doing whatever they have to to keep any business they can get and things are no different for Sol Glass’ (Ferdinand Gottschalk) clothing company.  When buyers come in from out of town, he had been arranging for call girls to take them out on dates, but the buyers were getting tired of being set up with gold diggers, so he decides to start setting the buyers up with the company’s stenographers instead.

Florence Denny (Loretta Young) is one of Sol’s stenographers, but she’s engaged to salesman Tommy Nelson (Regis Toomey) and Tommy doesn’t want her going out on dates. Florence agrees to stay out of it, but when fellow stenographer Birdie (Suzanne Kilborn) gets sick before she’s supposed to go out with Danny Drew (Lyle Talbot), Tommy agrees to let Florence fill in. Florence and Danny get along very well, but when Danny has too much to drink and gets a little too forward with her, she leaves, not wanting to be unfaithful to Tommy.

However, Tommy isn’t as faithful to Florence as she is to him.  He’s been seeing Bridie on the side, but after she finds out about it, Danny comes by to apologize for his behavior and takes her out on a real date. They continue to see each other and while they’re having dinner one night, she steps in to help Danny seal a major business deal with Luther Haines (Hugh Herbert).  But when Luther complains about Florence’s high pressure tactics, he makes Danny think that Florence has been living in sin with Tommy.

Danny is disappointed to think that Florence isn’t as virtuous as he thought she was. He brings her out to his friend’s empty house out in the country and tries to rape her, but doesn’t have it in him to actually go through with it. Unbeknownst to them, Tommy had followed them out and when Florence runs to him, Danny overhears Tommy accuse her of prostituting herself. Danny realizes that Florence was telling the truth after all and reams Tommy out for accusing her of such things.

On the whole, She Had to Say Yes is only a so-so movie.  The story has issues (who says stenographers can’t be gold diggers?) and despite the fact that Busby Berkeley was a co-director (his directorial debut, actually), it is surprisingly devoid of visual style. But if you like pre-codes, this is easily one of the wildest ones you’re apt to find.  It ranks up there with Baby Face, Red Headed Woman, The Story of Temple Drake, and Three on a Match.  Loretta Young is pretty good in it, but its pre-code appeal is definitely the movie’s strongest selling point. Even if you’re familiar with pre-codes, She Had to Say Yes still manages to be pretty shocking.

Other Men’s Women (1931)

Other Men's Women 1931Bill White (Grant Withers) is the irresponsible kind of guy that women are usually warned to stay away from.  He may have a job as a train engineer, but he’s a womanizer who drinks too much.  He does have a girlfriend named Marie (Joan Blondell), but she’s eager to get married and he isn’t.  Bill’s longtime friend Jack (Regis Toomey) is a bit more stable and has been married to Lily (Mary Astor) for two years.  On the night of their second anniversary, Jack invites Bill to join him and Lily for dinner.  But when Bill gets thrown out of his boarding house because of his irresponsible behavior, he’s invited to stay with them.

Living with Jack and Lily seems to have a good effect on Bill.  He straightens up his act a bit and is able to help out around the house a lot.  Everybody seems to be benefiting from this arrangement.  That is until one day when Bill realizes there is a woman he’d be willing to settle down for after all– Lily.  Lily has also fallen in love with Bill, but Bill cares too much about Jack to carry on with Lily behind his back and leaves with no explanation.  Jack knows that something happened between Bill and Lily and confronts him about it while they’re at work on a train.  They get into a huge fight that leaves Jack blind.

Bill feels terribly guilty after the accident and starts hitting the bottle again.  He goes back to Marie and in a drunken stupor, the both of them nearly get married.  But he backs out at the last minute and goes to see Jack instead.  Jack has no desire to hear from his former friend and when he finds out Bill had come over, he sends Lily away for a few weeks. Bill falls into a very deep depression and when their town is hit by some heavy rainfall that causes the river to overflow and flood the town, Bill decides to drive a train engine off a bridge as a way to dam up the river.  Jack has also fallen into a severe depression and when he finds out about Bill’s idea, decides to beat him to the punch.  Bill tries to stop him but Jack knocks him unconscious, throws him off the train, and carries on with the plan.  Some months later, Lily comes back to town and she and Bill run into each other.  Lily is still open to a relationship with Bill, which makes him happier than he has ever been.

I really enjoyed this movie.  Good story with good acting and good direction by William Wellman.  I loved Grant Withers as Bill and James Cagney and Joan Blondell are standouts in their minor roles.  Cagney played Jack and Bill’s friend Eddie Bailey, and even though he doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time, you can definitely see that he was a real up and comer.  The interesting thing about Other Men’s Women is that it can just as easily appeal to someone interested in the love triangle aspect of the story as it can to someone in the mood for something more gritty.  When this movie is gritty, it’s pretty darn gritty.  The fight scenes are very well done and it was interesting to see how it dealt with Jack’s blindness, especially just before he got on the train to drive it off the bridge.