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Monday, 10 December 2007

They Call It Sin (1932) Thornton Freeland

David Manners is a businessman again, though a real salesman this time called Jimmy Decker not just a secretary. He's engaged again too, this time to Enid Hollister, played by Helen Vinson, who is the boss's daughter. He finds himself in Merton, KS, on business, where almost everything is closed on Sunday so everyone can go to church and that's where he discovers the organist Marion Cullen, played rather seductively by Loretta Young, even though she doesn't look as good as most of the rest of the female cast, including Una Merkel, Helen Vinson or even uncredited soda jerk Marion Byron.

Anyway he completely ignores his engagement and romances young Marion, even stopping back in Merton on his return back from the rest of his business trip to California. Luckily for her and unluckily for him, the day he leaves back for New York, she discovers that her parents aren't her parents and there's nothing left to tie her to Merton. So off she runs to New York and her Jimmy, where he bizarrely hooks her up with his fiancee to find somewhere to exploit her musical talent.

This would have quickly become a very strange love triangle, or even a four way with the addition of George Brent as a doctor friend of Jimmy's who falls for Marion too, but they disappear from the plot for a while so that Marion can meet up with Una Merkel as a dancer called Dixie Dare, and together land work with a womanising theatrical producer. Once everything's moving in that direction, back come Jimmy and the doctor and the whole soap opera starts again.

The film is well acted by all involved, though it shows that it's really early in Helen Vinson's career. Merkel is great fun, Manners sincere and decent even when cheating, Brent decent in his own quiet way and Louis Calhern suitably villainous as Humphries the theatrical producer. I've never really become much of a fan of Loretta Young but she's fine here too, though its hardly believable that what seems like half of New York could fall for her with so much other talent around. The biggest fault of the film though is the script, which tries its best to hold together but veers a little too much into unreality on more than one occasion, not least the ending.

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