This morning I watched this film as I continue to watch older films like this one. Already I was grumbling a bit as I had wanted to watch Honor Among Lovers (1931) but it was hard to find online, so I watched this film instead. The ratings on here on this film go from the lowest (2 stars) to the highest (8 stars), so that opens the ground for my rating. I would not give this film a rating of 10 but would also not dismiss it outright, so I'm willing to give it a "proper chance" as Maleejandra suggested in their review, where they described that in this film she is "wild and free here," with a radiant personality, acting "much more like a savage than a society girl," while she kicks her legs up to throw her skirt up, sleeps in a man's room, seeing him before he is dressed, drinks a good amount of alcohol and is utterly violent, seen as "unladylike." But there is more to say about the film than just this.
The film begins with showing Bingo Dowling (played by Jean Crawford) dancing around in a settlement somewhere in the South American jungle, a bit reminiscent of a sort of stereotypical "Wild West town." In this opening sequence, one man tries to forcibly kiss her, to which she punches him in the nose in response. In the meantime, two suits, as you could call them, Ben Murchison/Uncle Ben (played by Ernest Torrence) and Howard Presley/Uncle Howard (played by Holmes Holbert), approach Bingo's father, whom is played by Lloyd Ingraham. Soon the scruffy man who tried to kiss Bingo approaches him, saying that he wants to marry Bingo, to which he refuses to grant, leading this man to stab him, grievously injuring him. As he dies in his bed, he says he wants to make sure his daughter gets a sizable part of his oil inheritance and in his dying words he recognizes the joyful Bingo come in, singing with a howler monkey on her shoulder. She is soon devastated when she learns of her father's death, undoubtedly affecting her psychologically.
But she seems to get over this quick as she travels with Uncle Ben and Uncle Howard (whom is not an uncle), accidentally bumping into Andy McAllister (played by Robert Montgomery) who she quickly grows fond of, even though they have known each other very little time. She threatens violence (a punch in the nose), literally against another woman whom Andy is talking with, saying this is "my man" and that Andy isn't "your little boy." Interestingly, she is much more aggressive in her advances toward Andy while he is almost a bit more passive, surprised her passion. Even so, Uncle Ben puts the breaks on this romance, saying it is impossible because there are many other men like Andy in New York (claiming that Andy is not unique) and that Andy has little money. This is one of the points where the movie's logic doesn't add up. If we accept all of his pretenses, it still confounds me that Uncle Ben could not find a job for Andy in the oil fields in South America as an engineer, or at least an engineer-in-training (as his schooling is not done yet). So, his denial of the romance between them is on pretty flimsy grounds, since by the end of the film when they finally get together (spoiler!), he is only earning about $60 a week, which isn't much better than having no money. Still, it is enough to convince Andy to stay away from her, for over a year, where they are drawn back together.
While you could say that after one year has passed and Bingo is part of high society in New York that she is "tamed," but the fact is she is still "untamed," able to mix the language of high society with her approach of utter violence. This is clear from the fact that she allows for the fight between a jealous man and Andy in the arena, which results in Andy being victorious, in some way proving Andy's "manliness" or "toughness" to her, a spectacle that Uncle Ben is shocked by. Thinking that Andy is not right for her, Uncle Ben works to interfere yet again, offering Andy a $50,000 check which he knows will insult him as he objects to the marriage with Bingo because she has so, so much more money than him, leading him to shutter at the idea of literally living off her money. At the film's climax, Bingo takes decisive action (which you can probably guess) to make sure Andy does not go with another woman, bringing them together as the film closes on a happy note.
Now, considering this was the first starring role for Crawford and considering the sound quality of this movie was not the best at times, I am willing to rate it higher than most of the people on here. At the same time, this film has the white savior written all over it, with two white men literally pulling her out of what is considered "the jungle" (it really isn't) and bringing her to New York to make her "civilized." You could also say it is a bit chauvinist in that Bingo wants a strong man as a protector, but the fact is that Andy needs to be pressured and convinced into being at her side, which is not an easy task once they get to New York. Crawford's role reminds me of Ellen Peterson/"The Gamin" (played by Paulette Goddard), alongside Charlie Chaplin as the factory worker, but also of the conception of Tarzan, of a "wild" white man whom was raised by apes on the Atlantic coast of Africa, which is thoroughly racist and sexist as we would see it now. So, I think the film has some of those themes, with "untamed" just being the nice way of saying "savage," clearly. As such, the best I can rate this film is a 7 out of 10, which is lower than my other ratings on here, but this is completely justified based on the nature of the movie itself. And with that, my review of this movie comes to an end.
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