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A wealthy ex-bootlegger comes to the rescue of a formerly rich society girl after her gold-digging fiancé leaves her stranded when he finds out she's broke. The bootlegger proposes a deal: he will settle her debts if she teaches him how to be "a gentleman". Written by
I'll at least set up the story and let you figure out why it was named such. Lois Moran, who never had much of a talking picture career, is the central figure as Julie Cavanaugh. She is a rich girl whose trust fund has gone bust, unknown to Count Ivan Karloff (Victor Varconi), who has invited her to a rural French inn where they discuss their upcoming wedding. At that rendezvous she tells him of her new poverty, and he says it means nothing to him. However, the next day he is gone, as are her jewelry and any money she had with her, and the count has stuck her with the bill. Along comes retired gangster Flashy Madden (Charles Bickford), who gives, at first, a humorous rendition of a hard guy trying to get the feel of a refined life. He has saved up a million dollars and wants to make it in the social circles.
Apparently Flashy has always had a crush from afar on Julie, and here she is in person and in trouble. He pays her bill and asks for nothing in return but that she teach him how to be a gentleman. She says "Gentlemen are made not born.", which is an odd thing to say seeing that she has just been robbed and jilted by somebody she thought was a gentleman. However, she does agree to teach him what to say and do in social situations and how to dress, and they share a car back to Paris. There she runs into Dick Webster, a senator's son she has known all her life and accepts his proposal just minutes before Flashy comes to Julie's room to make his own. However, he stops himself when she tells him of her engagement and he takes the news gracefully, wishing her all happiness. And shortly thereafter, after news of the engagement is published in the newspaper, the slimy count Karloff shows up. What happens? Watch and find out.
The acting in this one is very good, the plot will keep you engaged if you are into classic film, Charles Bickford in particular. This was one of many B films Bickford did after his acrimonious split from MGM.
I know this is was probably intended as a B film, even by poverty row Columbia, but the whole film supposedly takes place in France, and nobody apparently bothered to do some basic research. The keeper of the rural French inn where Julie and Flashy meet is speaking some combination of gibberish and a few French words - I speak French. When the film gets to the courtroom portion, it is strictly American not French trial customs that are shown, and there is talk of the electric chair which the French did not use. They used the guillotine up to the time that they abolished capital punishment.
I'd recommend it. You'll probably figure out where it is going ahead of time, but it is a fun ride and Bickford is always a joy to watch in whatever he does.
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