"Probation" is a pre-Code B movie put out by the apparently Poverty Row Chesterfield Motion Picture Company. Its barely over an hour long and its only real claim to any attention nowadays is that it offers supporting roles to former silent-movie queen Clara Kimball Young and future pin-up girl and box-office queen Betty Grable.
Grable is hardly recognizable here as her future glammed-up persona. She plays the barely 17-year-old jailbait sister of John Darrow, who is out of work but doing his best to look after her. He comes home one day, hoping to surprise her on her birthday with a cake, but is told by Clara Kimball Young, his landlady, that she has had the little tramp sent to juvenile detention after watching her make a date with wealthy playboy Eddie Phillips. (By the way, even though she was only 42 and this only a decade after her biggest success, "Eyes of Youth", Kimball Young is middle-aged and positively matronly here). Darrow then stumbles on Wells, who has come by to pick up Grable for their date, and gives him a thrashing, for which he is arrested. It so happens that J. Farrell MacDonald is his judge and Sally Blane (Loretta Young's sister) is the judge's niece. The judge takes pity on Darrow and in lieu of jail, puts him on probation for three months, serving as Blane's chauffeur.
Its best not to even think about the plot: its all very silly and unrealistic and dated. Unless you are an admirer of Kimball Young's silents and curious what happened to her or wondering what the very young Betty Grable looked like or if Loretta Young's sister was as talented or pretty as she was (no), then there's really no reason to watch this programmer. Richard Thorpe, the director, went on to become one of MGM's house directors and later did such big budget hits as "Ivanhoe" and the Stewart Granger "Prisoner of Zenda", but he certainly brought no distinction to this dud. And just because this was pre-Code, don't think there's any real naughtiness on display, other than Grable being an overactive 17 year-old who is quickly and unrealistically reformed by film's end.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?