|Index||9 reviews in total|
Given her origins--her mother died while giving birth to her--Buster Green
(Loretta Young) is averse to taking risks and not inclined to marry. Her
plan is to rise above her station as a department store clerk through
dedicated hard work. But when she meets Wallie Dennis (Norman Foster) she
finds herself succumbing to his spontaneous style and marries him--only to
find out on their honeymoon that he makes his "living" as a gambler.
He promises to reform but betrays her faith in him time and again. So when she finds herself pregnant she feels she has no choice but to cast him out and go it alone. Faced with mounting bills and prospect of giving birth to her child in poverty, she turns to gambling herself in a desperate attempt to reverse her fortunes.
19 year old Loretta Young is superb in this cautionary romantic tale; her combination of pluck and beauty make us root for her all the way. Winnie Lightner, playing her stalwart friend and defender Georgine, lends the story a down-to-earth realism as well as comic relief.
Gregg Toland's cinematography is crisp and economical--a highlight is the suspenseful scene that overlays a slow zooming in on Young's reactions over exciting footage of the horses at the track as her horse gains on the others in the race. Ray Enright's pacing of the story is masterful: the last ten minutes as things come to a head will keep you on the edge of your seat.
This general storyline has been filmed dozens of times--but Loretta Young's performance and the taut direction makes this one a keeper!
Loretta Young is perfectly lit here, which enhances her beauty immeasurably, and she is quite believable in this role. I first saw her in her later movies--and on her TV show, swirling through the door every week--so it's quite a revelation to see her at the absolute peak of her talent and looks. Winnie Lightner does her usual gum-chewing, wisecracking shtick, and the rest of the cast is quite good. The script is a little weak, and things get a bit maudlin at times, although the pre-code one-liners are fun. (Winnie, as her bloomers blow off the makeshift clothesline and out the window: "Oh, that was my last pair of panties!" Loretta: "What will you do?" Winnie: "Stay off of ladders!")
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This B picture from Warner Brothers casts Loretta Young and Winnie
Lightner as pair of shopgirls who both work for Guy Kibbee as a
supervisor. Winnie plays up to Kibbee who's doing one of his patented
old rogue characters. But Loretta is looking for something with a
little more excitement and thinks she's found it in Norman Foster.
The problem is that while Loretta thinks she's married to a high living salesman, she's really marrying a very high living gambler. And when two might turn into three a crisis ensues.
Play-Girl runs exactly an hour which clearly puts it in the B category. Loretta and the cast do breathe some life into it, she's just beautiful and Lightner is cast in parts that Ruth Donnelly or Patsy Kelly would be playing in a higher grade film. What happens to Loretta in the film is just plain ridiculous and how Foster is redeemed is even more so.
But if you love Loretta Young than you must see this film. Her beauty literally carries it.
Transfers at the "Mayfield Department Store" result in beautiful
Loretta Young (as Buster "Bus" Green) being assigned to "Infants Wear"
while comic relief pal Winnie Lightner (as Georgine Hicks) is sent to
"Plumbing Supplies". The women, who share a bed, are unhappy with the
new assignments. At home, they arrange a dancing date with Ms. Young's
boyfriend James Ellison (as Elmer) and pal Norman Foster (as Wallace
"Wally" Dennis), a "blind date" for Ms. Lightner. But, Mr. Foster
thinks Young is "hot" and begins to pursue her. The two unexpectedly
fall in love, but Foster has a dark secret. He's a compulsive
Meanwhile, sharp-tongued Lightner is romanced by older man Guy Kibbee (as "Finky" Finkelwald). This is a strange, carelessly scripted story about the effects of gambling. The heroine's problems, caused by her gambling husband, are alleviated by her own gambling; it doesn't make sense. An interesting point of characterization is that when Young's character was born, her mother died; for this reason, she is supposedly reluctant to marry, and have children. She is mistakenly called a "Play-Girl". But, Young and the cast are enjoyable. In real life, Young was close to co-star Foster; he married her sister, actress Sally Blane.
***** Play-Girl (3/12/32) Ray Enright ~ Loretta Young, Winnie Lightner, Norman Foster, James Ellison
The title is meaningless, the story just as pointless, and whatever interest there is to be derived from this girl-loves-gambler weepie comes from the delicate beauty of Loretta Young. The film is a feast for the eyes (with nary a morsel of food for thought) as masterly cinematographer Gregg Toland captures the poetry of Young's huge, soulful peepers and full promising lips with one lovestruck close-up after another. The following year's "Zoo in Budapest" and "Man's Castle" would cement her position as the Depression's most desirable waif, the pin-up girl of the bread lines. With the barrelhouse comedienne Winnie Lightner as her wisecracking pal and Guy Kibbee, criminally wasted as Lightner's swain.
Very early Loretta Young film: she's not even top billed. Winnie Lightner is - an interesting younger character actress. But it really is Loretta's movie. The plot involves Loretta's character falling in love with a gambler - and the complications which arise. Norman Foster plays the gambler: ironically, he married Miss Young's sister (Sally Blane) in 1937 - after being divorced from Claudette Colbert. Most memorable scenes in this movie are set in a department store circa 1932.
Movie is also notable as (apparently) the first movie of a very young James Ellison. Neither the title "Play Girl" or the alternate title "Love on a Budget" really describe this film. Entertaining melodrama from the early days of sound.
Sometimes I think Warner Bros. named these early 30's films just as
quickly and casually as they filmed them. There is nothing in this film
about "play-girls". Also, although Winnie Lightner is top billed, this
is really Loretta Young's picture. Loretta plays Buster Green, a
salesgirl in a department store who wants to eventually become a store
buyer. She wants no part of marriage and especially motherhood since
her own mother died in childbirth. As they say, life is what happens
when you are making plans. Buster falls for and marries the charming
Wally Dennis, who claims he is a salesman but is actually a
professional gambler. She doesn't find out until after they are married
about the gambling, but Wally promises to get a real job. Months later,
Buster finds out she is pregnant and only then finds out Wally didn't
actually get a job like he promised he would - he is still gambling.
Loretta Young does the same wonderful job with this material that I have come to expect from her as she runs the gamut of emotions from hope to disappointment and from anger to terror, and she is one of two reasons to watch the film. The second reason are the antics of top-billed Winnie Lightner, who is actually playing in support here in this, the twilight of her film career. She plays Buster's best friend, roommate, and coworker prior to Buster's marriage. Her comic one-liners and facial expressions are priceless. If you know much about her rather short film career, one of the funniest moments in the movie is when she is scrubbing the apartment bathroom at night while the song "Singin in the Bathtub" plays in the background. That was the song she sang in the Warner Brothers all-talking revue in 1929 - "The Show of Shows" - when she was at the top of her game. Lightner is also quite good opposite Guy Kibbee, who plays the store assistant manager who loves her and won't let her work in any of the store departments where she might meet a man she likes better than him.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Two ladies are roommates and work at the same department store. One,
Winnie Lightner, is older and less attractive and seems to be there
more for comic relief than anything else. This sort of friend is a
common cliché in films of the period and often these sort of roles were
played by supporting actresses like Glenda Farrell or Helen Broderick.
The 'pretty friend' (also a cliché) is played by Loretta Young---who,
despite years in Hollywood is still a radiant teenager.
Young meets Wally (Norman Foster)--a handsome man who is a professional gambler. At first Loretta has no idea that this is how Wally can afford his lifestyle, but when she finds out, he promises to get a real job. Based on this promise, they marry and the audience collectively gasps because this just spells impending doom! Not surprisingly, despite his promise, this addict soon goes back to his old ways. Eventually, she's had enough and they have a huge blow-up. Will he give up gambling? Will he be there when...the BABY arrives? Will they patch things up by the end of this film? Well, what do you think?! Overall, this is a formulaic film with quite a few clichés. Yet, despite this, it's well-acted and entertaining and worth seeing if you are a fan of classic Hollywood films. Certainly far from great and a bit silly, but enjoyable.
Play Girl (1932)
*** (out of 4)
Irresistible pre-code about a working class girl (Loretta Young) who believes in working for something in life and not just marrying into it. She eventually falls for a compulsive gambler (Winnie Lightener) and after their married the ugly nature of gambling comes into play. This is a wickedly funny and in the end depressing little tale that works wonders in its short sixty-minute running time. Young and Lightener make for a terrific couple and the racy sexual dialogue makes for some great laughs. Young is beautiful and charming as ever and delivers a knockout performance. This was the first film I've seen Lightener in but he was wonderful as well. Edward Van Sloan has a small part as well.
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