Paul Vanderkill is extraordinarily wealthy because his grandfather happened to buy farmland in what was to become Midtown Manhattan. The Loveland Dance Hall is one of the tenants of the ...
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Paul Vanderkill is extraordinarily wealthy because his grandfather happened to buy farmland in what was to become Midtown Manhattan. The Loveland Dance Hall is one of the tenants of the Vanderkill estates. To reassure his aunt Sophie, Vanderkill visits Loveland to determine whether it is as disreputable as Sophie suspects. There he meets a dime-a-dance girl, Madeleine MacGonagal, who charms him with her quaint proletarian accent. They begin a secret affair, which turns into a secret marriage when pregnancy ensues. When the baby fails to survive, Madeleine decides that since he had married her only for the baby's sake, she should make haste to Mexico to secure a divorce. There she meets Panama Canal Kelly, a former suitor who now owns a silver mine. Her plans for divorce and quick remarriage are complicated when Vanderkill arrives to confront her. Written by
Cameron Majidi <email@example.com>
Don't let the wedlock baby fool you. This is a version of the fairy-tale Cinderella story popular with Depression era audiences of the time. It comforts folks with the idea that rags- to-riches lightning may strike them if they just get noticed by a benevolent rich person, in this case John Boles with the rather double-edge name of "Vanderkill". What's suggested is that rescue from desperate economic conditions lies with joining established wealth instead of joining with other desperate folks to improve the common economic condition. I don't know how the screenplay compares with Sturges' stage play, but what's there on the screen looks processed in typical Hollywood fashion.
I realize this kind of perspective is unwelcome to most viewers who simply want to be entertained in engaging fashion. Certainly Nancy Caroll does that with a winning performance as the down-trodden girl. Her sheer spunk in the early scenes carries the movie, at the same time I couldn't help thinking how much her big eyes, high cheek bones and flattened hair-do resemble the popular Betty Boop character of the time. Too bad the rest of the cast doesn't come up to her level, especially Buck Jones' Panama Kelly whose unbelievably gallant nature helps produce the fairy tale outcome. Note also, how actual Depression era conditions are not allowed to intrude on the enclosed world of the lovers. To be fair, that may simply have resulted from a tight budget. But if so, the constraints help produce what appears to be the desired overall effect.
Whatever the movie's internal qualities, the relevance of the underlying message to that historical period needs to be pointed out. Because no matter how much we may wish otherwise, history has a nasty habit of repeating itself.
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