Thursday, September 04, 2014



In this early "Gold Diggers"-style movie (though not a musical), Joan Blondell and Madge Evans are ex-showgirl roomies on the prowl for money and love, preferably both. When we first meet them, they are having a reunion with the slightly older (and much bitchier) Ina Claire who has returned from Paris after a disastrous sugar daddy hunt. They vow to stick together and be the Three Broadway Musketeers, but troubles begin immediately. Claire is pissed when she discovers that Blondell has been billing and cooing with the elderly and very rich Pops, whom she had been seeing before she went to Paris—Blondell says that "Pops is my fiancĂ©, not that we're engaged or anything like that." Evans, who is practically engaged to the rich handsome David Manners, gets in the middle of some shenanigans involving Manners' friend, a rich pianist (Lowell Sherman, also the film's director) who shifts his attentions from Claire to Evans; she then gets irritated when Manners doesn't act jealous. Claire winds up sleeping with Sherman, and Evans gets officially engaged to Manners; out of sheer spite, Claire plants a stolen pearl necklace on Evans on the day she's meeting Manners' father, hoping to scotch the engagement. In the middle of all this, Pops dies; Claire expects a nice lump of money but instead discovers that he has warned the estate's executor about her scheming.

Based on a play—the credits read, "Based on the stage success"—this same material was adapted in the 50s as HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE, and unofficially adapted by any number of films about Broadway babies looking for love. This is fun for a while, but the sheer nastiness of Ina Claire's character starts to wear you down, even though Claire is fun in the role. Why Blondell and Evans would remain friends with her is a mystery. All three women are good, though disappointingly, Blondell has the least to do. Manners is one of my favorite 30s actors, and he's fine here. Sherman is better as the conniving pianist. Fairly entertaining, though mostly of interest as a pre-Code relic. Pictured from left are Manners, Evans and Claire. [YouTube]

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