The John Roberts Costume Company is being run super-efficiently by Doris Roberts, but her husband demands that she give up her position to stay at home with their young son. Without her wheeling and dealing skills the company starts to lose money and when John leaves for Europe on a tryst, Doris returns to save the firm. Hooking up with an obviously disturbed producer and a pair of theatrical backers, the costume company seems to be on the road to riches again when John returns and wants his share of the profits. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
An OK comedy and a good example of a pre-code film
I saw this film on TCM as part of their month-long "Screened Out" series. It's not a great film, but it wasn't bad either. It has to do with a company founded by a married couple that designs and supplies costumes for Broadway shows. The husband issues an ultimatum to the wife (Lightner) that her place is at home taking care of their son, not at the office. He makes this ultimatum not out of concern for his son, but so that he can make his wife's secretary his own since she is already his mistress. When Winnie's character agrees to resign and stay home, her husband proceeds to run the business into the ground and then takes off to parts unknown with the company's remaining funds and his secretary/mistress. Now it's up to Lightner's character to repair the damage to the company and repay the creditors before the business has to be dissolved.
The husband does reappear at one point, and the odd thing is, Winnie has him behind a legal eight ball not because he is a man in his thirties carrying on with an under aged (17 year old) girl (the secretary), but because he has promised to marry the girl and has gone back on that promise - or as they once called it - breach of promise. Oh how conventions have changed in eighty years.
I've heard much about Winnie Lightner over the years, primarily about her role in the lost film "Gold Diggers of Broadway", and I was surprised as how she actually came across on screen. Lightner actually seemed more matronly than a flapper in this one. Charles Butterworth, who I usually find unbearably unfunny, actually did a good job in this one as company researcher - he makes sure that historical costumes are accurate for the times. Then there is the reason this film was in the festival in the first place - Bobby Watson as Paisley, the apparently gay costume designer in a delightful over-the-top performance. Watson certainly had a wide acting range. In 1929 he is a whiny vaudevillian in one of the first talkies, "Syncopation". Then he went on to playing gay men during the precode era, but you probably best remember him as the diction instructor in "Singing in the Rain".
This film will probably never be on DVD, but it's fun viewing and a good example of a pre-code era film.
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