For Reel

Sorority House (1939)
April 14, 2015, 6:37 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: John Farrow
2.5 Stars
Sorority HouseFuture blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo contributed the script to this Anne Shirley programmer, which uses the exclusionary and snobbish dynamics of sorority houses as a way of discussing larger socioeconomic issues. The cards are laid on the table late in the film in which Alice’s (Shirley) father (J.M. Kerrigan) suggests that a great many conflicts in the world are caused by the very nature of cliques–whether those groups be that of a sorority, a club, or even a nation. Class is a major issue in the picture (Alice only attracts the attention of sororities when it is believed that her father is wealthy), and the screenplay definitely lambasts upperclass pomposity, which was a favored topic of Trumbo that would get him in hot water. Other than the intrigue of Trumbo’s screenplay, there’s very little worth remembering. Shirley’s performance is exactly what one expects–she’s naive, hopeful, and despite a few hiccups ultimately good-hearted–and the supporting players are serviceable. There’s an unintentionally humorous but charming sequence in which Alice is asked on a date by her love interest (James Ellison) while getting her blood pressure checked. Where else do you get to hear the words “systolic” and “diastolic” uttered as a means of flirtation?

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