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Far from a Classic But the Silliness Makes it Worth Watching
Expensive Women (1931)
** (out of 4)
Decent pre-code from Warner has Dolores Costello playing Connie Newton, a rich woman who falls in love with Arthur Raymond (Anthony Bushell) not knowing he's already married. The two plan on being together but his controlling father (H.B. Warner) puts a stop to that but soon murder and a trial follows. EXPENSIVE WOMEN isn't a very good movie but there are enough decent moments to make fans of pre-codes watch it. Now, it's very important to remember that studios were pretty much ran like a factory back in the day and I'm going to guess that this film was rushed through production just so the studio could have another "naughty" film out there for crowds to flock to and see. The biggest problem with this movie is certainly the screenplay, which in all honesty is a complete joke. At just 62-minutes the film flies by but the problem is that none of the characters really go through any sort of development and to say they'd one-sided would be the understatement of the decade. The lead character is someone we're supposed to feel sorry for yet the screenplay pretty much forgets to write in any details about her. We learn that she's rich. We learn that she's not a virgin. We learn through all the tough edges that she really wants love. The story here is so poorly put together that these various stages just come and go without too much thought. The first fifteen minutes we see Connie and her easy friend (Polly Walters). The next fifteen minutes has Connie falling in love. The next fifteen minutes features Connie getting her heart broken. Finally, we get an incredibly stupid murder sequence with an even quicker and dumber trial. I won't spoil anything but the final ten minutes of this movie is so stupid that you can't help but laugh at it. The film's rushed production is even more obvious in a sequence around the thirty-minute mark where Connie and her love are kissing in her hallway and a piece of her costume slides off her back and onto the floor. Neither actor notices it and they just go their separate ways living the piece on the floor. Ed Wood would have been proud. The performances for the most part are pretty good with Mrs. John Barrymore doing a nice job in the lead. Walters is pretty funny as the easy girl with non-stop men around her and Warren William steals the film in his small part. Warner is also very good as the father but Bushell really gets lost in the cause. The screenplay writes his character as such a wimp that you can't help but hate everything about him and I must say that this is perhaps the most annoying character I've seen from any movie of this era.
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