Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tonight's Movie: The Richest Girl in the World (1934) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Miriam Hopkins is THE RICHEST GIRL IN THE WORLD (1934). It's a delightful film just released on DVD by the Warner Archive.

In the Oscar-nominated story by Norman Krasna, Dorothy Hunter (Hopkins) despairs of finding someone who will truly love her, not her money. When she falls for Tony Travers (Joel McCrea), she tells him she's Sylvia, Dorothy's secretary, in order to find out if he can love her for herself.

The real Sylvia (Fay Wray) agrees to pose as Dorothy, but when Dorothy tests Tony's love for her by throwing him at the faux Dorothy, it gets very complicated, given that Sylvia is actually a newlywed head over heels in love with the long-suffering Phillip (Reginald Denny), who's anxious to move back home to England with his bride.

Will true love win? What do you think?

This film is a lot of fun thanks to the deft playing by the cast, which also includes the wonderful Henry Stephenson as John, Dorothy's guardian and mentor.

This was one of several films Hopkins and McCrea made together in the mid '30s, and he'd also previously worked with Wray in THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932). When McCrea makes his dashing entrance, I could just imagine an enthusiastic crowd applauding if the movie were ever shown at a TCM Film Fest! He and Hopkins work well together, his relaxed attitude being a good foil for her excitability.

Wray and Denny are particularly charming as the newlywed lovebirds who delay their plans in hopes of helping Dorothy land her man. Wray had a real knack for comedy, as she demonstrated that same year in THE AFFAIRS OF CELLINI (1934); some of her side eye expressions are hilarious. Her eyeball roll near the end when she realizes that Tony saw Phillip sneaking into her bedroom late at night is worth the price of admission; that's followed by a funny scene as Phillip arrives at the breakfast table in a very happy mood.

The complicated plot could have been wrapped up a little more clearly at the end of this 76-minute film, but that's my only real complaint; there's some nonsense about every passenger on the ship where "Sylvia" and Tony sail getting a nice upgrade, as apparently Tony still doesn't know she's Dorothy, and John wants her to have a nice honeymoon. In the wrong hands the story might not have come off as well, with the leading man duped as to Dorothy's identity for so long, but thanks to the ensemble and a funny script it's all very light and frothy.

Selmer Jackson turns up here as a doctor. It's at least the fourth film I've seen him in in the last few days! Small wonder, as IMDb shows he had well over 400 credits.

The cast also includes Beryl Mercer, George Meeker, and Edgar Norton. Bess Flowers is a party guest.

THE RICHEST GIRL IN THE WORLD was directed by William A. Seiter. It was filmed by Nicholas Musuraca.

I previously reviewed this film in 2009; please check out that older review for interesting info on Reginald Denny's second career as an aviation pioneer. My liking for Denny in this film and my interest in his aviation inventions prompted us to pay our respects at his final resting place at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills earlier this month. He was a fascinating, multitalented man.

The Warner Archive print was occasionally light and scratchy, and I thought the soundtrack was a little weaker than the typical Warner Archive film, but it's still quite watchable. There are no extras.

THE RICHEST GIRL IN THE WORLD was remade as BRIDE BY MISTAKE (1944), also available from the Warner Archive. The Hopkins and McCrea roles are played by Laraine Day and Alan Curtis in the remake, with Marsha Hunt and Allyn Joslyn in the Wray and Denny parts.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


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