Jerry Strong is the son of a rich businessman, but wants to be a painter. He hires Kay Arnold, a good girl with a bad past, as a model. They fall in love, and plan to get married. But Jerry's parents raise strong objections. Written by
John Oswalt <email@example.com>
Several sources list Graves' character name incorrectly as "Jerry Strange". (Perhaps his name was spelled thus in the silent version?) But in the soundtrack of the talkie version, spoken dialog clearly identifies his surname as "Strong", including the crucial phone call (trying to save the heroine's life), in which he says, "I'm Jerry Strong." See more »
LADIES OF LEISURE, adapted to the screen from a play, is another in a long line of Frank Capra-directed films that pits the lower orders against the upper through the device of a romantic entanglement. In this case it's "lady of leisure" (read: prostitute or good time gal) Barbara Stanwyck against the slightly bohemian scion of a wealthy banking family (Ralph Graves). The theme of the movie is set right away as we see a bustling Manhattan street at night. Suddenly bottles fall from the sky and explode on the sidewalk, narrowly missing pedestrians. They are coming from a group of drunken young women who are tossing them over a penthouse terrace balcony for kicks. These party girls have been hired by dissolute swell Lowell Sherman, a friend of Graves, who, offended by the crudity of the party scene, hops into his roadster for a drive into the country. He stops by a lake where he sees a young woman (Stanwyck) dressed in an evening gown rowing herself ashore in a canoe. It turns out she too is a party girl and is also escaping a wild party, this time on a yacht. He finds her attractive and offers her a ride back to the city. As is her habit, she picks his pocket while he's driving. Thus the plot line is set. We know what will happen by the end. Along the way we are treated to a beautifully etched characterization by Stanwyck who covers a wide range of acting territory from crude and lowdown to transcendentally idealistic. The equally inventive Marie Prevost provides generous support as her overweight roommate. Lowell Sherman, playing the same type of hard-drinking, pleasure-loving sophisticate as he often did in other movies (Bachelor Apartment, What Price Hollywood), is also excellent.
For whatever reason, Ralph Graves cannot perform like a flesh and blood human being. His movements are stiff and unmotivated, his emotions seem forced and sudden. Even the expression on his face looks pasted on from some other character in some other movie. All wrong. One is not surprised to see that within a few years he was playing uncredited bit parts in third-rate movies. His silent film credits are numerous and go back to the teens so one can only wonder what his appeal was. He is not bad looking, so one must assume that his substantial silent film career owed a lot to his appearance.
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