Millie Blake has a love affair that goes wrong, so Millie plays the field recklessly from that point on. When she finds out that one of the reckless players from her past has now cast his ... See full summary »
Millie Blake has a love affair that goes wrong, so Millie plays the field recklessly from that point on. When she finds out that one of the reckless players from her past has now cast his spell on her daughter, she takes matters into her own hands and finds herself in a courtroom trying to find a better defense plea than mother-love and honor-protection. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Music and Lyrics by Nacio Herb Brown
Played during the opening credits and at the end
Played by a band at a nightclub and sung by an unidentified trio
Reprised as dance music and as background music often See more »
Millie is a well-made, well-acted early talking picture, but like many of these "pre-code" melodramas, it is not going to seem very entertaining to most classic movie fans because it is so unremittingly grim and sleazy. It works overtime to portray life in early 20th century urban America as a nightmarish merry-go-round of boozing, empty partying and infidelity. Not a single strong, moral major character lightens the dark immorality and hedonism. All the men are cheaters, womanizers, child molesters, and drunkards. The women all victimized weaklings, whores, dumb broads, cats, and lushes. Nevertheless, the tone is ultimately cautionary rather than exploitive.
The title character Millie (Helen Twelvetrees) starts as a timid, chaste small town girl who marries a well-off New Yorker (James Hall). A few years later, she is living in luxury, has a beautiful daughter, and a kind-hearted mother-in-law who adores her. But she is unhappy because hubby no long pays much attention to her. He is always going away "on business" -- oh! oh! Presently, while in a nightclub visiting with old home town pal Joan Blondell and Joan's equally slutty cohort Lilyan Tashmn, poor Millie catches hubby with his "business" -- a dame. She divorces the cad but inexplicably lets him have custody of the kid without even demanding a settlement. Any other woman would have socked it to the bum, but our Milly is a hopelessly weak, wavering, unstable type. Her modest job at a hotel tobacco counter gives her contact with lots of men, but only one who interests her, a reporter played by Robert Ames. She thinks he is a nice guy in spite of his guzzling too liberally of prohibition bathtub gin. After all, he is a reporter, and in old movies press men are expected to be drunks. Alas, he turns out to be two-timer as well, the cad! Helped along by the unwholesome influence of professional floozies Blondell and Tashman, Millie descends into wild partying, empty affairs, alcoholism, and a date with a murder trial.
Even though this picture is loaded with drinking, promiscuity, infidelity, bawdy language and behavior, it may not be such a bad one for young people to view with proper supervision. The drinking and other dissipation is not glamorized as in other movies of the era, notably the first two Thin Man movies. Millie in fact shows exactly where such a decadent lifestyle leads -- how disgusting intoxication is, and the harm sleeping around and cheating does to oneself and others.
Though much immorality and freewheeling lifestyle is shown in Millie, there is in fact no hint of a lesbian relationship between the floozies played by Blondell and Tashman as some others have alleged -- except in the diseased imaginations of the homophobes and homophiles who find such under every rock. The two girls are shown in the same bed together all right, but simply because they are renting a cheap room furnished with only one bed. It was common in those days for both male and female room mates on an economy budget to do so -- with no hanky-panky.
Again Millie is a well-made movie with an engrossing story, but it is simply peopled with too many unredeemed losers to be enjoyable to those with a wholesome outlook. The only strong, moral character is Millie's mother-in-law (Charlotte Walker), but she is given only three brief appearances. If her character had been beefed up with a little more screen time, it would have helped.
A final note. Several of the players in Millie met sad ends. Helen Twelvetrees' career ended early, mainly because the directors and studio bosses got fed up with her tantrums and her otherwise unstable personality. Forgotten for many years, she died of a drug overdose, an apparent suicide, at age 49. Lilyan Tashman died of cancer three years after Millie was released. As Millie's booze-soaked reporter boy friend, Robert Ames was apparently playing himself. A year later he died at 42 of -- get this --delirium tremens! Don't drink, kiddies.
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