Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tonight's Movie: The Richest Girl in the World (1934)

Turner Classic Movies showed a number of Miriam Hopkins films earlier this week, including WISE GIRL (1937), which I watched last evening. However, the Hopkins movie I was really looking forward to seeing for the first time was THE RICHEST GIRL IN THE WORLD, costarring Joel McCrea. It proved to be as much fun as hoped.

Super-wealthy Dorothy Hunter (Hopkins) has spent her entire life living out of sight of the press, protected by her guardian (Henry Stephenson); Dorothy's devoted friend Sylvia (Fay Wray) poses as Dorothy in public. However, Sylvia has married Phil (Reginald Denny) and is ready for the charade to end so she can move to England with her husband.

Dorothy meets Tony (McCrea) and hopes he'll love her for herself and not her money, so she asks Sylvia to switch places and become "Dorothy" one final time so that she can find out who Tony truly loves.

Hopkins and McCrea were frequent costars in the mid-'30s in films such as BARBARY COAST (1935), THESE THREE (1936), and WOMAN CHASES MAN (1937). They are two of Hollywood's greats who are always an enjoyable team.

I especially liked Reginald Denny and Fay Wray as Phil and Sylvia. Reginald Denny as a romantic second lead -- who knew? He was quite charming as Sylvia's besotted bridegroom, and Wray was equally fun in her dual role.

Speaking of "Who knew?" -- check out Denny's fascinating biography at IMDb. He had a second career as a pioneer in remote-controlled model aircraft and helped invent the first drones used by the U.S. Army; one of his companies eventually became part of Northrop. You can read more about this at Another amazing site has wonderful photos of the hobby shop he owned on Hollywood Boulevard, as well as pics of Robert Montgomery with his "Dennyplane." The site's homepage is here. I have a lot more reading to do on this topic! What a fascinating piece of aviation and movie history.

Henry Stephenson, who plays Dorothy's guardian, is a plus in any movie he's in. The cast also includes Beryl Mercer, George Meeker, and Edgar Norton.

Norman Krasna was Oscar-nominated for his creative story, which was used again a decade later as BRIDE BY MISTAKE. I enjoyed and reviewed the remake a couple of years ago. Laraine Day and Alan Marshal played the leads; once again I particularly enjoyed the second leads, played that time around by Marsha Hunt and Allyn Joslyn.

THE RICHEST GIRL IN THE WORLD was directed by William A. Seiter, who went on to direct a number of Shirley Temple and Deanna Durbin movies. The movie has the usual swank RKO '30s look, designed by Van Nest Polglase and his team.

The movie was shot in black and white and runs a fast-paced 76 minutes. It has not had a video or DVD release.

April 2017 Update: THE RICHEST GIRL IN THE WORLD is now available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

March 2019 Update: I had the chance to see a 16mm print of this film on a big screen at UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater.


Blogger Matthew Coniam said...

Another of my favourites! As well as the remake you mentioned, huge chunks of the plot also turn up in the Jane Russell film The French Line. I love the relaxed acting between Joel, Miriam and Fay. Terrific film.

6:10 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Glad to know you have enjoyed it too, Matthew! Thanks for the interesting info about THE FRENCH LINE. I haven't seen that one yet.

Best wishes,

5:05 PM  
Blogger Miguel Angel Oquendo said...

I saw this movie years ago, and being a Joel McCrea fan, arranged to have it recorded. I was glad I did. This movie, I don't know if I'm correct in describing it as a sleeper, for, by golly, the abrupt ending kicked my ass indeed. I could have stood up and cheered. I did, within. Sadly I have hunted every where for a copy having had to give up my previous one, to no avail. I found one but the price is mercenary.
Thanks for posting about this film.

2:15 PM  

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