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Wise Girls (1929)

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Title: Wise Girls (1929)

Wise Girls (1929) on IMDb 5.1/10

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Complete credited cast:
Elliott Nugent ...
Norma Lee ...
Kate Bence
Duke Merrill
J.C. Nugent ...
Clara Blandick ...
Marion Shilling ...
Ruth Bence
Leora Spellman ...
Jane Wade
James Donlan ...
Ben Wade
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Billy O'Brien


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Plot Keywords:

based on play


Comedy | Drama





Release Date:

21 September 1929 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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User Reviews

J.C. Nugent is a Jazz Age Archie Bunker
9 September 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I have to take my hat off to MGM. They preserved almost all of their film history including this film which could only have been a B effort in its day. It shows none of the polish that MGM gave its A list early talking efforts that same year and has no stars or director of note except Roland Young, and he was just starting out in films in 1929 after years of having been a stage actor.

J.C. Nugent (Dad, or Mr. Bence) is a retired businessman who appears to be in his mid to late 50's. He has a nice but not super elegant house, and he has two single spendthrift daughters. This is driving Dad crazy because he retired only with one hundred thousand dollars - I'm going to guess that's worth between one and two million today - and it has to last him the remainder of his life. One daughter, Ruth, appears to be level headed beyond all of the spending. Kate, however, has delusions of grandeur of making it big in the art world on top of everything else. She got her book published only because her wealthy beau secretly pulled some strings, and now she wants to tackle musical comedy. This gets on the last nerve of her beau (Roland Young as Duke Merrill) because he wants her to settle down and for them to be married, and the two quarrel.

The first person Kate meets after the quarrel is Kempy (Ed Nugent), an indigent young man who is a plumber by day and architect by night. He tells her that her book changed his life and that he always promised himself if he met the author he would marry her. Kate is angry, Kempy is easily led, and off they go to the justice of the peace. Now when Kate phones home and tells her family she is a married woman, they assume she married Duke. This is great news for Dad, since back in the 20's single girls lived at home until they married, and Duke will be a good provider. When the couple returns home and her parents see who Kate's husband really is, all tarnation - and Dad's blood pressure - break loose.

The problem is, Kate really got married to get back at Duke, Kempy got married because he is easily led and seems to be just a little afraid of Kate, and sister Ruth and Kempy are starting to find that they have much in common besides Kate. Comic complications ensue.

Shave about a half hour off of this film and it would have been a nicely paced comedy, almost a screwball comedy foreshadowing those great Jean Arthur vehicles of ten years later. Up to the time Kate gets married the film moves along nicely. After the wedding, the film drags frightfully to its conclusion so that it is real work just to stick with it to the end in spite of its many humorous scenes and situations.

As for the Archie Bunker comparison I made with "Dad" Bence in the title of this review, it mainly has to do with his attitude towards his new son-in-law and the prospect of supporting him on top of everyone else and how he takes for granted his long-suffering wife (Clara Blandick). There is no social commentary going on here other than this film taking an interesting peak into what was probably a typical middle class home in the 1920's. I'd recommend it for that "interesting peak" and from the film history angle if nothing else.

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