Theater usherette Bunny O'Day (Clara Bow) inadvertently becomes hostess of a private gambling den, and gets involved in a romance with a ne'er-do-well gambler.

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Helen 'Bunny' O'Day
...
Douglas Thayer
...
Ole Olson
Dixie Lee ...
Dotty 'Dodo' Potter
Harry Green ...
Maxie Mindil
...
Betty Royce
...
Curly Andrews
...
Romeo
Maurice Black ...
Happy
...
Charlie
William B. Davidson ...
Paul Nicholson ...
Chief Armstrong
...
Battling Hannon
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Geraldine Dvorak ...
Woman at Gambling Table
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Storyline

Theater usherette Bunny O'Day (Clara Bow) inadvertently becomes hostess of a private gambling den, and gets involved in a romance with a ne'er-do-well gambler.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

gambling | See All (1) »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

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Release Date:

16 January 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Indicadora de Cinema  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Trivia

One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »

Connections

References Fighting Caravans (1931) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Clara's cute, and the Deco sets are cool, but Oy! that script . . .
11 February 2003 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

Clara Bow is remembered primarily as a star of silent films, like Valentino and Theda Bara, but unlike them she made a number of talkies, several of which hold up quite well today. No Limit, however, is not one of Clara's better sound vehicles. This film is a rarity, only recently restored and given public screenings for the first time in 70 years, and it would be nice to report that it's a rediscovered gem, but unfortunately it's a dog and the script is to blame. Film buffs, Bow enthusiasts, and fans of the Pre-Code era may well find it of interest despite its flaws -- as I confess I did -- but general audiences will find only an awkwardly paced comedy-drama full of uncertain shifts in tone, ridiculous plot twists played straight, clunky dialog, and unfunny "comedy relief," much of it provided by a supporting player who represents that eternal favorite of hack screenwriters, the cute little immigrant who mangles English.

Clara plays a naive movie theater "usherette" nicknamed Bunny who is persuaded to look after an apartment in a ritzy building, unaware that the place is an illegal gambling joint. (For a New Yorker, Bunny is a bit slow on the uptake.) She also gets involved with one of the gamblers, a real sleaze-ball who takes advantage of her, and she's slow to react in this situation, too. It takes way too long for our leading lady to wake up and smell the coffee, and meanwhile we lose patience with her. There's nothing wrong with Bow herself as a star of talkies: her voice was fine, and she delivers her lines with a natural quality that comes off better than some of the other players' painfully precise elocution. She's energetic and charming, and carries this film with ease, but like John Gilbert she had to deal with second-rate material cobbled together by screenwriters who were themselves still struggling to master the new medium. Listen to all the love talk she and the leading man have to deliver and you may be reminded of Gilbert's infamous "My darling I love you, I love you" speeches in His Glorious Night, lines that made audiences hoot with laughter. Who could recite this stuff without sounding foolish? It's impressive that Clara plays her part with such conviction, no matter how silly things get, and emerges with her dignity intact.

The opening sequence is the highlight. Clara and her girlfriend (played by Dixie Lee, Bing Crosby's first wife) are working girls struggling to get to their jobs on time. There are some good location shots of a New York tenement neighborhood as the girls rush outside to the elevated train. (Is this the Sixth Avenue El? or were they filming in Clara's hometown, Brooklyn?) Next there's a funny sequence on the train, significantly played in silence. Clara's eyes are more eloquent than any of the lines she's required to speak. It's a promising intro, but all too soon Bunny and the other characters are required to behave in ways that aren't credible for a second. Bow is clearly smarter than the woman she's playing, and the most dismaying aspect is that she becomes such a doormat to the aforementioned crook who blatantly uses her for sex, and who actually admits this to her face -- but darn it, she can't help loving the mug anyhow. (Clara's boyfriend is played by Norman Foster, an actor who turned director a few years later.) Even the crook's highly unconvincing eleventh hour conversion to goodness can't overcome the high yuck factor of this relationship. Add Stu Erwin's caricature of a moronic Swedish sailor, and Harry Green's malaprop-spouting Funny Little Jewish Guy, and you've got all the ingredients for a pretty dismal experience. Pre-Code buffs may want to see No Limit despite its deficiencies, and for fans of Miss Bow it's a must, but it's not going to be very satisfying for the average viewer.

P.S. For those with an interest in slang there's a notable moment in this film. In an early scene Bunny the usherette arrives late at the theater, prompting one of her co-workers to make a sarcastic remark, something along the lines of: "Well Bunny you're always on time for work—NOT!" The phrase is a little startling for anyone under the impression that negating a sentence by ending it with "NOT!" came along much later. The things you learn from old movies!


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