Wednesday, June 11, 2014


When the matriarch of the Harper family dies, young Ann (Loretta Young) is left the bulk of her estate, but the disposition of all the property is reliant on two things: Ann must first get married—with the approval of her aunts and uncles—and the family must not allow a bit of scandal to appear in the papers before the marriage. Pissed off about the restrictions, Ann puts an ad in the paper for a young, good-looking and "unscrupulous" man, hoping to create a scandal even at the cost of her money. Gil (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.), a handsome professional gigolo who admits to his fellow gigolo roommates that he thinks he's not really good at his business, answers the ad. She plans to get caught with him in a compromising position, but (this being a Hollywood romantic comedy) they fall in love instead. However (this being a pre-Code romantic comedy) there are still some risqué touches: at their first meeting, Ann needs to get her maid to give her advice on how to create a scandal (the maid says plainly that they need to get his clothes off, and when the aunts arrive, he ducks out the window wearing one of Ann's furry nightgowns--see picture at right). Ann, Gil, the aunts, and Gil's roomies all end up that evening at a racy speakeasy, the Circus Café: Ann looking for Gil, Gil there on assignment, the aunts trying to stop any scandal, and the roomies looking for business. The aunts wind up escorted by the gigolos and get quite drunk as the evening goes along, and in the end, Ann threatens to expose the aunts to scandal for their drunken behavior unless they agree to let her marry Gil.

This is a cute comedy, helped immensely by the attractive and likeable duo of Young and Fairbanks; she's sexy and fizzy, he's handsome and charming. The two largely vanish during the long speakeasy sequence at the end as the aunts and gigolos take over, to good comic effect. Fine support is given by Louise Fazenda (Aunt Sarah) who sounds like the Wicked Witch of the West when she shrieks at Young, "You purple woman! You lavender woman! ... You rainbow!!" I also liked cute Eddie Nugent as Andy, one of the gigolos, whom we first see lolling naked in the bathtub. Though this may not be top-drawer pre-Code material—the story is thin and predictable—it is a lot of fun. [TCM]

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