'The Beautiful Fraud' is a romantic drama with strong comedy elements. Billie Dove, who never especially appealed to me, portrays Millicent Howard: the hat-check girl in the restaurant of a posh Manhattan hotel. Millicent (what an unattractive name!) has social pretensions, so she claims to be living at the hotel while she seeks a wealthy husband. She is abetted in her ruse by the hotel's switchboard operator (amusingly played by Yola d'Avril). Whenever a 'phone call arrives for Millicent's (nonexistent) hotel suite, the switchboard girl routes the call to Millicent at the hat-check station.
In traditional Cinderella fashion, Millicent appropriates an elaborate formal gown that belongs to a genuine hotel guest: the haughty Mrs Gillespie. Naturally, mayhem ensues. Millicent attracts the unwelcome attention of the lecherous Mr Claverhouse, whom she cries 'Porterhouse'.
SPOILERS COMING. The romantic interest is supplied by Lloyd Hughes, a handsome actor who generates very little screen presence. (His most famous film is 'The Lost World', in which Hughes was easily upstaged by a plasticine dinosaur.) After a misunderstanding, Hughes flees the New York hotel for Grand Central Station, intending to take a southbound train. The climax is faintly amusing, with Millicent confessing her love to him without realising that the station's Tannoy is switched on, so that her words are heard all over the terminal. This device is not very effective, because the movie is silent ... so we have to *imagine* that we're hearing her voice amplified. On the other hand, if this movie were a talkie, then the device still wouldn't work ... because then she would hear her own amplified voice, and she would know what's happening. This inept climax emphasises that this entire film doesn't really work. I'll rate 'The Beautiful Fraud' 4 points out of 10.
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