Friday, August 27, 2010


A pre-Code romantic melodrama which plays out like Reefer Madness, except about the dangers of gossip. There are four central characters: Nancy Carroll is an average small-town girl who works as a bank secretary and still lives with her parents; Cary Grant is a playboy known for carrying on a string of affairs; Edward Woods is a bank clerk with the hots for Carroll; and Randolph Scott is a geologist and friend of the Carroll family who comes to visit for a few days. One Saturday, Carroll's gang gets invited to Grant's place for a party; when Grant and Carroll vanish together for the afternoon, Woods gets jealous. That night, when the party has moved to a lakeside nightclub, Woods takes Carroll out for a motorboat ride which ends badly when he tries to "press his advantage," as they say. She leaves the boat on the other side of the lake and trudges to Grant's place. Woods drives around to pick her up but she refuses to go with him, instead having Grant's driver take her home at 2 in the morning. The next day, gossip spreads about her until half the town hears that she spent the night at Grant's, leading to her getting fired for her loose morals. In the meantime, the shy Scott starts wooing Carroll, eventually proposing to her, but next Saturday, at another "hot" party, he hears the gossip about her and when he sees her dancing with Grant, assumes the gossip is true.

The plot here is nothing special, except for the ending [SPOILER!] in which Carroll, rejected by Scott, runs off with Grant (theoretically to be married, though given his reputation, which we have seen to be true, we wonder...), not caring what her parents or friends or Scott think. Grant and Scott, both handsome and full of charisma, steal every scene they're in--this was the first time Grant had lead billing, though he would not become a bankable star for another few years. Scott is particularly appealing: hunky and youthful, he does a nice job playing a guy who is supposedly shy around women but doesn't come off as a yokel or a doofus (that part is taken by the cubby Grady Sutton who, though a doofus and a little on the femme side, still manages to get his share of make-out action). Carroll is OK, though it's difficult to see why the men make such a fuss about her; her friend Eva (Lilian Bond) and younger sister (Rose Coghlan) are both more attractive and have at least as much personality as she. No kissing or petting is shown, but there are a couple of racy moments: at Grant's party, a chanteuse runs her hands up and down her body while she sings "I’m Burning for You"; sample lyrics: "Call the fire engine/And the whole darn crew/Tell 'em all to hurry/'Cause I’m burning for you" and "When you say no, I'm a volcano." In one bizarre scene played for laughs, Carroll yanks her sister's underwear off of her. On the Universal Pre-Code Hollywood Collection. (Image above from [DVD]

No comments: