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Heiress Carol Owen learns to fly from aeronautical engineer Jim Leonard who begins neglecting his work as their affair progresses. Things get complicated when she learns her father died penniless and that she has been being supported by her financial advisor, and now suitor, Bruce Hardy. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
... in this rather muddled tale involving a love quadrangle. The four corners of this quadrangle (in order) are engineer Jim Leonard (Humphrey Bogart) who is the protective brother of chorus girl Linda, who is the secret mistress of Bruce Hardy, who is the financial adviser and suitor of poor little rich girl Carol Owen (Dorothy McKaill) who falls for Jim Leonard. As Jim Leonard says to Carol, "Can you read blueprints?". If you can, you might have a chance of following this busy little precode film. Add in one more important character - a sleazy guy who wants to star Linda in a revue financed by Hardy's money.
What really hurts this movie is that the subplots don't really gel that well into one well integrated plot of a movie. Also there are some lines that you wait to hear that you never do. For example, when Carol brings Jim over to her mansion for a party the serious upright young man is obviously disgusted by Carol pretending to auction off her servant Kibbee like he was a piece of furniture to her drunken guests to offset her losses in the stock market. Jim walks out without saying goodbye. However, the next time the two meet Jim soft soaps the entire affair. I really wanted him to tell her off. What saves the film are the fine performances and the fact that the subplots are interesting enough even given the lack of motivation for the players' actions.
It's truly interesting to see Bogart playing a rather shy very scrupulous engineer - what a great smile he has! Dorothy McKaill is quite good as bored rich girl Carol who is trying desperately to fill up her day with fun things to do when her real problem is that she's lonely in spite of her busy social life. She really had a great voice and did good work here. It's a puzzle to me why she didn't really do that well in talkies. I'd recommend it to fans of McKaill and/or Bogart and to anyone interested in films of the early 30's.
Best precode moment - Jim has spent the night with Carol and is standing at the base of the stairs wearing the clothes he had on when he got there last night - a tuxedo. He's surprised by Carol's butler Kibbee. Jim then tries to stutter through an explanation of why he is there at 8AM in formal attire. Kibbee plays the part of the father figure that pretends to be convinced of his grown daughter's chastity when he knows otherwise and this is one of the few times you'll ever see Bogart behaving like a tongue tied teenager on film.
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