Thursday, January 31, 2002


I think this Warner Brothers comedy about a young woman who suddenly comes into a million dollars was made a few years too late. Its plot would have been much more in tune with the 30's Depression era zeitgeist (and movies like MY MAN GODFREY and EASY LIVING). As it is, it feels a bit tired and ragged. May Robson (wonderful as always, and the main reason for watching this all the way through) is a rich old lady who finds out that her late father, years ago while amassing his riches, was responsible for the ruin of a business partner. She tracks down the partner's only living heir, a relatively penniless young woman (Priscilla Lane) who works at a department store and lives in a rundown boarding house. Robson has her attorney (Jeffrey Lynn) give her a million dollars anonymously, then Robson comes to live at the boarding house, under an assumed name, to see how Lane copes. Lane's only real problem is her stubborn boyfriend, pianist Ronald Reagan, who fancies himself a serious composer (his serious work sounds a lot like "Rhapsody in Blue") and doesn't want to live off of Lane's new wealth; when Reagan leaves Lane, Lynn is ready to step in.

The cast manages to pull much of this off fairly well, especially Reagan, who is gruffer and edgier than usual. There's always something about Lynn that's a little creepy; he looks like a cartoon character, like he's always on the verge of being "hopped up." Nevertheless, he is ingratiating in his role here, and I actually wanted Lane to go off with Lynn (though it's no surprise that Reagan wins out in the end). The movie is a little too long--a ridiculous sequence where Lane refuses to believe she's rich unless she can actually *see* the cash should have been cut altogether. The most disappointing thing, however, is a promising plot direction that goes nowhere: when Robson arrives to stay at the boarding house, we are introduced to the boarders (including Lee Patrick in a wonderful small part as a brassy blonde showgirl) and it suddenly feels like a non-show biz STAGE DOOR. However, the interesting boarders don't really play much of a part in the proceedings until the very end. The moral of the story, that money can't buy happiness, is predictable and tedious--I really wanted Lane to dump self-righteous Reagan and live in luxury with Lynn!! Helen Westley is the crusty old landlady; John Ridgely and Charles Drake, two very handsome bit players with quite a few Warners credits to their names, pop up for a few moments.

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