Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Play Girl (1941)

PLAY GIRL (1941) is an enjoyable 75-minute RKO "B" movie with Kay Francis as a beautiful gold digger.

Francis, whose career was on the downhill slope in the '40s, remains great fun to watch, and she gamely takes on the role of Grace, a woman used to luring wealthy men who don't want to marry; after having pretended she believes the man has proposed, she then hits him up for a settlement to avoid a breach of promise suit.

Grace realizes she's getting too old to keep attracting rich men so she takes on a pretty young protege, Ellen (Mildred Coles), and teaches her the ropes. Their first mark is William Vincent (Nigel Bruce), a bachelor from Chicago.

Grace and Ellen successfully extract $50,000 from Vincent, but Ellen doesn't enjoy it and is much more interested in Tom (James Ellison), a young cowboy. (Ten years later Ellison was still playing young cowboys, as seen last week in OKLAHOMA JUSTICE.) When Ellen learns Tom is actually quite wealthy, she breaks off their relationship because she doesn't want him to be Grace's latest moneybags or to learn her own background and think she doesn't love him. Grace then decides maybe she'll land Tom herself...

This is a quick-moving little movie which is quite entertaining. There are a couple momentarily distasteful scenes, with Ellen "leading on" a man old enough to be her father, but they are offset by the very humorous later scenes in which two of Grace's "victims" find themselves at her mercy all over again, ruefully writing her checks.

The movie is also lifted by Grace's final scenes with Tom's mother, played by the always-wonderful Katharine Alexander. She meets Grace and gently mentions that Grace is two years older than she is! The women end up becoming friends and everything works out quite nicely, though it would have been even better to see the romantic storylines tied up onscreen rather than off.

In an era when actresses could be sensitive about their age, it's nice to see an actress like Francis so enthusiastically embrace a story with the premise that she's heading over the proverbial hill. Of course, she looks like a million bucks anyway, so that might have made it a bit easier!

PLAY GIRL was directed by Frank Woodruff from a story and screenplay by Jerome Cady. It was shot by Nicholas Musuraca (OUT OF THE PAST) so it looks good!

Margaret Hamilton has a fun role as Grace's loyal maid.

Part of what attracted me to purchase this Warner Archive DVD, along with the presence of Kay Francis, was the beautiful cover art! I think it's one of their best covers ever.

There are no extras on the disc. It's a very nice print.

PLAY GIRL may also turn up on Turner Classic Movies.


Blogger KC said...

Funny that you should write about this just as the disc is on the way from C.Flix! Now I'm really looking forward to seeing it.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Let me know what you think, would be fun to compare notes! :)

Best wishes,

2:10 PM  

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