No Limit (1931) Poster

(1931)

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7/10
Two movie cuties!!!!
kidboots4 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Clara Bow's films are not the most artistic but she makes them good because of her naturalness and charm. She was never treated with much respect by Paramount - "No Limit", a film where Clara becomes (unwittingly) a hostess of a penthouse casino was released in the middle of all her own gambling woes - talk about being insensitive!!! It was also hard for her female chum in the film. Beautiful Dixie Lee, who played Dodo, probably thought her career was going to be bigger than it was. She had just married Bing Crosby then 2 weeks later she signed to do "No Limit" and was on the train to New York - she would not have been very happy!! The opening shots of New York and the subway are just amazing - I think it was very unusual for films made at that time to have so many authentic outdoor locations. Bunny (Clara Bow looks astonishingly beautiful) and Dodo (darling Dixie Lee) are cinema usherettes - Harry Green is their tiresomely unfunny boss. I didn't notice him being so bad in "True to the Navy" (1930). The film playing is "Fighting Caravans" with Gary Cooper and Ole Olson (Stuart Erwin) is a persistent patron with eyes only for Bunny. She won't give him the time of day but has a big crush on oily Douglas Thayer (Norman Foster). Foster is pretty charmless in his role - it is hard to understand what Bunny saw in him. Foster soon moved on to directing. Ole inherits a penthouse and a Rolls Royce from his uncle, although the lawyer advises him to sell it - with good reason as it is really a front for a casino. When Ole goes on a cruise he gives the keys to Bunny, letting her stay there. He knows nothing about the gambling!!! When Bunny arrives, with Dodo, at the apartment things are in full swing and she is mistaken for the hostess - which she plays to the hilt, once she sees her crush at the blackjack table. "Do you like Monte Carlo"? "I'm just crazy about "Monte Carlo" - I liked it much more than "The Love Parade" - oh, you mean that Monte Carlo". From her remarks he thinks she is a sophisticated woman of the world and a gold-digger, and proceeds to romance her - Bunny falls for it hook, line and sinker. After a misunderstanding they decide to marry, although he hasn't changed ("here's to a short marriage and a happy one", "there's always divorce")!!! In reality he is a jewel thief and the law soon catches up with him. Clara is just grand - she improved with each talking film she made and, who knows, could have gone on to a second career in talking films if she hadn't decided to retire. Thelma Todd also has a small but showy part as the jewel laden movie star Betty Royce. Recommended.
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3/10
Clara's cute, and the Deco sets are cool, but Oy! that script . . .
wmorrow5911 February 2003
Clara Bow is remembered primarily as a star of silent films, like Valentino and Theda Bara, but unlike them she made several talkies, some 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 many 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 cutesy 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 birthplace, 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 as the Jewish Guy Who Mangles English, 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 likely to satisfy 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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5/10
Love Minus Zero
wes-connors5 August 2008
Cute theater usherette Clara Bow (as Helen "Bunny" O'Day) agrees to apartment sit for a friend, and unexpectedly finds the premises serve as a center for illegal gambling. There, she meets suave, but crooked, Norman Foster (as Douglas "Doug" Thayer). Mr. Foster is hot-and-bothered, and Bow is head-over-heels. "I thought you had 'It'," he tells her. Although Bow had long admired Foster's looks, she is put off by his forwardness. But, he pursues her to the alter. Can their marriage survive his underworld ties? Paramount photography by Victor Milner gets "No Limit" off to a terrific start. The locations are great. Bow seems more self-assured than in previous "talkies"; her voice was never as big a problem as were her nerves. It's difficult to believe Foster would fail to recognize Bow, even in the dark; but, he is both a convincing and endearing heel. Stu Erwin (as Ole Olson) plays the unfortunate "dumb Swede". The film provides an opportunity to see the first Mrs. Bing Crosby, pretty Dixie Lee Crosby (as Dotty "Dodo" Potter). And, don't forget, Gary Cooper appears in "Fighting Caravans". ***** No Limit (1/16/31) Frank Tuttle ~ Clara Bow, Norman Foster, Dixie Lee Crosby
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charming little comedy still brings laughs
bigbeat_6611 February 2003
In this early talkie, Clara Bow plays a movie usherette who who gets to babysit a Park Avenue apartment that turns out to be an illegal gambling den. Clara is wonderful as always, despite all the emotional stress on the set that is occasionally noticeable on screen. There's a lot of inside humor for Clara buffs in this film - for example, the scene where she gambles with what she thinks are 50 cent chips that are actually worth $100 apiece. History buffs will also appreciate the images of the New York City subway in the opening scenes. In fact, No Limit does for the El what It did for Coney Island. The story itself is lightweight fluff, of course, but it is very nicely done and the film can still make you laugh out loud. Well worth watching.
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8/10
Watch It for Clara Bow
drednm25 February 2006
Clara Bow is solid in No Limit and it's amazing how good she got at acting in talkies, culminating in her terrific performance in Call Her Savage. But the script here is loose and the casting is bad for several key roles. Stu Erwin is terrible as the "Swede" and he doesn't even bother trying for the accent that El Brendel or Joseph Cawthorne could have done in their sleep. Norman Foster (usually in Andy Griffith type parts) is also lousy as the lead thug (with a mustache yet)who falls for Bow. But they hardly matter. The whole show here is Clara Bow. She's funny as the wisecracking usherette who isn't so wise after all when she babysits a swanky Art Deco apartment that turns out to be a gambling den. She has a great delivery of lines and looks terrific. The story just doesn't make much sense. Harry Green is the theatre boss, Dixie Lee is Bow's chum, Thelma Todd shows up in a part that makes no sense, and Mischa Auer is a thug. Starts off great but quickly falls into bizarre plotting that never goes anywhere.
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7/10
Starts at wonderful and slowly wends its way down to mediocre
JohnHowardReid8 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Sad to say, the lovely, breezy Clara Bow was not well liked by her female acting colleagues in 1930. To a woman, they were jealous of her success and of her instant mastery of the sound medium. She didn't require any lessons. She didn't have to undo any stage training. Quickly adjusting to sound, she just breezed through her roles the way she normally did them. But all the constant carping from her colleagues gradually made her lose confidence in herself. They criticized her accent, her delivery, her stance – everything. Adding to the mix, Clara herself was courageously honest about her horrific childhood in Brooklyn, her abusive parents and their mental instability. This truthful version of a star's hideous life story was an absolute no-no with her colleagues who always acted as if their glamorous film roles reflected either their own upbringing in some idyllic small town OR that they were the heirs of equally famous show-business parents. Fortunately, Clara is at her brightest, funniest and sexiest in No Limit – which is most fortunate as she receives little support from the rest of the cast with the exceptions of Dixie Lee (who simply disappears from the plot) and Thelma Todd (who has little more than a walk-on). Her leading man, Norman Foster, is both a bore and a jellyfish. Stuart Erwin has little to do – which is fortunate as I'm not sympathetic to his shtick. His easily-duped dope can be funny in the right circumstances, but this script does not provide them. The character was obviously written for Jack Oakie; but a Jack Oakie brand of garrulous, self-important idiot, Stuart Erwin most definitely is not. As for Harry Green, I can take him or leave him, though I tend to agree with the 99% of movie lovers who would much rather leave him. The rest of the players, including Mischa Auer, are just background scenery. The movie's finest moments are right at the very beginning of the picture when Clara and Dixie are running for the 6th Avenue El. A pity the writers and the director couldn't keep up this level of inspiration for the rest of the movie!
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3/10
Clara's sparkling presence can't save this talkie drama.
mark.waltz27 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
No matter what silent movie "It Girl" Clara Bow thought about her speaking voice on film, history has shown that during her four years in talking pictures, the screen's first major sex symbol actually was very pleasant to listen to. Unfortunately, the same thing can't be said for a lot of her movies which suffer either from the creakiness of early sound or bad scripts that didn't show the cute redhead to her best advantage. One of her worst was "No Limit", a film with an extremely slow moving story that barely resembles a plot. Clara makes the most of what she is given, and is truly adorable. The film was so dull that I really couldn't remember any other details then how difficult it was to stay awake through.

What exists of the slim, staticky drama is the tale of a movie usherette (Bow) who happens to become involved with Norman Foster, the owner of a gambling house and overhears his involvement in a crime. In between are moments between the various characters which do not move the plot along at all. The most interesting elements of this pre-code drama is some of the New York location photography (particularly a shot of an elevated subway train) and the one scene where Bow stands frantically in the background as she realizes the truth about Foster. Comic great Stuart Erwin is wasted in a romantic buffoon part, while Dixie Lee (the first Mrs. Bing Crosby) and Thelma Todd play stereotypical depression era tough girls. Without Clara, this would be a total bomb.
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