For Reel

Play Girl (1932)
January 28, 2017, 4:32 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Ray Enright
2.5 Stars
play-girlThis Warner Brothers programmer is at its best as a cynical Depression-era comedy thanks to the talents of top-billed Winnie Lightner. The comedienne, whose shameless mugging makes her performances simultaneously feel out-dated and absolutely enlivening, had a particular gift for spitting vitriol and witty one-liners. When her last pair of panties blows out of the window and she is asked what she’ll do, Lightner nonchalantly responds, “Keep off of stepladders!” Her verbal sparring is met with acts of physical aggression—later in the film, she shoves a co-worker so hard that she collapses into the men’s room. Unfortunately, the comedic aspects only make a small part of this weepie wherein Loretta Young falls for a gambler (Norman Foster) and finds herself turning to gambling herself. Foster is hardly convincing as either an addict or a lover, and while Young makes for a terrific contrast to Lightner due to her youthful naïveté, she doesn’t sell her character’s childbirth neuroses in a convincing way. Director Ray Enright stages a memorable scene in the early-goings in which the women of a department store are assigned to their departments, and the hints of his visual comic touch makes one wish the film stayed a department store comedy (although unremarkable, his pre-Code pictures with Joan Blondell are an apt demonstration of the studio’s light-hearted but cutting comedic ethos in the early-1930s).

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