Sunday, May 04, 2008

Tonight's Movie: Small Town Girl (1936)

SMALL TOWN GIRL is a lovely, absorbing romance. Dr. Bob Dakin (Robert Taylor) marries Kay, the girl of the title, on a whim after a spat with his fiancee Priscilla (Binnie Barnes). Kay happily goes along with the marriage as the nice young doctor seems like a way out of her dull smalltown life. Come sober reality the next morning, the doctor wants to forget the whole thing, but circumstances dictate that the couple pose as happy newlyweds for a few months. Will Bob ultimately leave Kay and return to Priscilla, or...?

I enjoyed this film immensely. The two lead actors are charming, and as an added benefit there are lovely performances by Lewis Stone as Bob's father and James Stewart as Elmer, the telephone lineman who has a yen for Kay. I think my only quibble about the film is Bob took longer than I'd like to come to his senses. Otherwise, it was a delightful film which does a wonderful job establishing a sense of "place" in the early scenes and later has a warm, romantic vibe. I'm not sure I'd seen a Robert Taylor movie until a couple years ago, but I'm making up for lost time; he's become a favorite actor.

The excellent cast includes Elizabeth Patterson, Isabel Jewell, Frank Craven, Nella Walker, Charley Grapewin, Andy Devine, and Edgar Kennedy. Marvelous Robert Grieg turns up once again as a butler; see this post for more on some of Grieg's other performances in films reviewed here in recent months.

First Lady Pat Nixon has a bit part in the film; she had small roles in three other films during 1935-36, including BECKY SHARP, which was the first full-length Technicolor movie, and THE GREAT ZIEGFELD, which was the Best Picture of 1936. Her film career was short, but the films were quite notable. It's rather interesting that we've had two First Ladies who were movie actresses.

Curiously, Kay's small town is named Carvel, which is also the name of the town in the Andy Hardy series in which Stone played Judge Hardy.

SMALL TOWN GIRL was directed by William A. Wellman and an uncredited Robert Z. Leonard. It was filmed in black and white and runs 106 minutes.

This movie is not out on DVD or VHS, but is part of the library at Turner Classic Movies, where it next airs on June 6 and July 6, 2008.

Click here for a page where you can vote your interest in a DVD release.


Blogger Missy said...

It's funny how the remake of the same name, starring Jane Powell and Farley Granger, is ssooo different than this movie. The latter version is most famous for the Bobby Van's bouncing dance.


8:05 AM  
Blogger Carrie said...

Always a fun movie to watch - I love the scenes on the Yacht.

2:24 PM  

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