Mannish ultra-efficient A.B. is the real force behind the Bancroft paint business. But on a weekend house-party when she overhears the boss's grandson (Jimmy)'s unflattering opinion of her ...
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Mannish ultra-efficient A.B. is the real force behind the Bancroft paint business. But on a weekend house-party when she overhears the boss's grandson (Jimmy)'s unflattering opinion of her (unseen) lack of charms, she's hurt. Jimmy's grandmother takes her under her wing, makes her over, and teaches her to flutter her eyelashes and only say the two phrases to win a man: "Do go on!" and "Aren't you wonderful?". And Jimmy falls hard, not knowing his darling girl is the dreaded A.B. But can A.B. maintain her girlish guise while setting Jimmy on the right track to financial security and a proposal? Written by
Leatrice Joy, a stunning and intelligent beauty, had fallen out with DeMille by this time, due to, among other reasons, her short haircut. DeMille then put her into movies which mostly revolved around gender conflicts, and, according to the commentary on the DVD, he had little personal involvement in these films. If so, it helps explain the lackluster feel of Clinging Vine.
You get the impression that the script did not just want to tell another story about a "manly" woman who is tamed by a strong man, and this is certainly to their credit, considering how often that type of dross was churned out, to the point where the dynamic leading ladies of the '20s, '30s, and '40s were eventually replaced by any random model or sitcom starlet put into a nothing role.
The problem with the script is that you have no idea how you should feel about A.B.'s transformation. As much as they try to say the grandmother is hip and cool, the dress she gives A.B. is horribly dated and looks like what Katharine Hepburn had on for most of Little Women. The advice she gives for fluttering and flitting at men rests on the idea that all men must be very stupid. You really have to wonder exactly a woman like A.B. would be able to go on pretending, condescending, lying, and exactly why she would even want to be with a man who is so incredibly stupid and weak.
The film's biggest failing is in the casting and scripting of "Jimmie" Bancroft, grandson to the big boss. For one thing, Jimmie is played by Tom Moore, who was over 40, and looked it. Even if people had children very young at that time, he does not look anywhere near the age of their grandson. Why this wasn't changed to son, I don't know. There is also little to no genuine romance between Jimmie and A.B. You have no idea if we're supposed to see this as a love story or if the message is that A.B. needs to find a man - any man - who is dumb and in need of constant supervision. It's a very depressing message, and as a result, a very depressing film.
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