Saturday 6 January 2007

Page Miss Glory (1935)

We're in Grand Central Station and the wide eyed and stunningly naive Loretta Dalrymple has just arrived in New York. She's from the country, obviously way out there in the country, and doesn't seem to have much clue about anything, but she lands a job as a chambermaid at the Park Regis and she has a good heart. That's where she meets Pat O'Brien and Frank McHugh, playing a couple of quick talking, quick thinking young men who know full well that people can become millionaires in three days in this town.

Their new big idea is to conjure up a composite picture of all the best parts of the best beauties they can find in the magazines to enter in a radio competition to find the most beautiful girl in the country for a modelling campaign. Unfortunately they soon find that they need to produce Dawn Glory herself. Companies are falling over themselves to hire her and hotshot publicist pilot Bingo Nelson, who's as daffy as she is, proposes to her on the air. Of course she doesn't exist, so they settle on turning their friendly chambermaid Loretta Dalrymple into Dawn Glory.

This is a great example of just how throwing money at something can create, if not the greatest film in the world, at least something fascinating to watch. It's a Cosmopolitan Picture, the company founded by William Randolph Hearst to create vehicles for his mistress Marion Davies and by this time he'd thankfully come to grips with the fact that while she wasn't a great actress she was a damn fine comedienne. She also somehow didn't have the egotism that she really ought to have had, and was quite happy to spend most of a film like this looking far less than her best, to the benefit of the picture.

Because Cosmopolitan Pictures had just moved across to the Warner Brothers lot, this movie is jam packed full with most of the Warners talent of the era. Beyond Pat O'Brien and Frank McHugh, there's Dick Powell as Bingo Nelson, Mary Astor as McHugh's girlfriend, Allen Jenkins and Barton MacLane as investigators hired by the opposition, Lyle Talbot as a reporter, Berton Churchill as the assistant manager of the Park Regis, and many more. This isn't Show People and it isn't even The Patsy and it doesn't deliver on every single joke it aims at but it's a fast paced riot with a lot of laughs and a lot of Warner stars strutting their stuff.

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