For Reel

Smartest Girl in Town (1936)
March 10, 2015, 7:48 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Joseph Santley
3.5 Stars
Smartest Girl in TownThis B-picture from RKO plays like one of the popular Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers pictures of the day. It concerns a pair of eventual lovers who have met under false pretenses–she (Ann Sothern) has mistaken him (Gene Raymond) for a model, when in actuality he is a man of incredible wealth. In a romantic comedy driven by misunderstanding, who better to give support than a trifecta of Astaire-Rogers supporting players in Eric Blore, Erik Rhodes, and Helen Broderick! Although Raymond’s appeal is limited–he’s rather bland, even if Sothern’s treatment of him occasionally elevates his comparatively mannered performance (there’s a scene involving the washing of his hair that Sothern makes the most of)–Sothern makes a good stand-in for Rogers with her quick-wit and inexorable will. The final set piece is a morbid but enormously satisfying one in which Raymond fakes his suicide in order to see if Sothern really cares for him. What transpires is as morally despicable as movie marriages get, but the antics of Sothern, Raymond, and especially the terrific Blore are highly amusing.

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