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SHOPWORN is a terrific little potboiler from Columbia Pictures in 1932
starring Barbara Stanwyck in one of her first good-hearted girls from
the wrong side of the tracks. Barbara stars as Kitty, a waitress with
no family and no means who attracts the attention of wealthy young
Regis Toomey much to his hypochondriac mother Clara Blandick's
displeasure. When learning Toomey plans to marry this "cheap" girl,
Blandick pulls in her pal, corrupt judge Oscar Afel to put out a
warrant on Kitty in a trumped up morals charge. Virtuous Kitty angrily
refuses the judges offer of $5,000 to get out of town and instead
serves her sentence. Once released, she is now embittered and not quite
sure she can trust Toomey either.
Now free, Kitty decides to enter a new racket where she becomes a sensation as a sexy nightclub songstress. Stage door Johnnies are all over the place and Toomey numbers among them but Kitty while still has feelings for him she remains untrusting. And old mother Blandick is still around to cause further trouble.
This movie is highly watchable mainly because of two sensational actresses, Barbara Stanwyck and Clara Blandick. Everyone knows how fantastic Barbara is, she could find truth in the most hackneyed situations and she does not disappoint with this rather standard story. The superb character actress Clara Blandick's talents are less remembered today outside of her sweet Auntie Em in THE WIZARD OF OZ but she was really in her element playing mean old bats who went out of their way to make trouble. Usually Blandick's buzzards were rural hens but her she is equally effective as a moneyed monster. Blandick holds her own with Stanwyck and proves to be one of Barbara's finest female co-stars.
Show biz history buffs will want to watch for Maude Turner Gordon in the supporting role of Mrs. Thorne. Ms. Gordon was one of the great beauties of the late 19th century and very early 20th century stage and makes as lovely and elegant a senior citizen as Stanwyck herself would a half century later.
This fast-moving film features Barbara Stanwyck in her early period
when she usually played a tough, lower-class dame with a hot temper who
stands fast to her principles. This character is virtually identical to
the ones she played in NIGHT NURSE, LADIES THEY TALK ABOUT and BABY
FACE. Here she is a waitress who falls in love with a rather bland
medical student (Regis Toomey) whose nasty and snobbish mother (an
excellent and truly scary Clara Blandick) schemes with a corrupt judge
(Oscar Apfel) to separate the young lovers by sending Stanwyck to one
of those reformatories that pop up so frequently in films of this era.
The ever-fluttery Zasu Pitts is on hand as Stanwyck's aunt - what a
comedown from GREED.
In one scene Stanwyck, trying to memorize the dictionary as a means of self improvement, shows her suitor a list of words beginning with the letter "e" which she has written down. He reads them aloud, stops after "ejaculate," looks at her with some curiosity and says that even he would never use such a word. That moment immediately pigeonholes this film as pre-Code. The scene continues artfully with one-word exchanges all starting with the letter "e." Later, while Lucien Littlefeld is conversing about the Stanwyck-Toomey relationship with Oscar Apfel, a couple of lines are very clumsily overdubbed by other actors. Makes one wonder what was actually said. Late in the film there is an imaginative banquet scene in which the camera carefully pans the length of a dining table highlighting the place cards (each a little paper doll inscribed with a guest's name) while the corresponding but off-screen voices converse on the soundtrack; then the camera moves back to reveal the whole table and all of the people we have been listening to. The yard between the diner where Stanwyck works and the house where the owners live is well depicted: tattered laundry hanging on a line, overflowing garbage cans and kittens playing.
The screenwriter Robert Riskin contributes some snappy and witty dialogue. He worked quite frequently with Frank Capra, penning the scripts for IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, MEET JOHN DOE, LADY FOR A DAY and MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN, among others. All of these films address the issue of "decency" what truly constitutes decency? Saying you are decent or actually being decent?
Working class heroine Barbara Stanwyck is tough as nails as she spits
in "decent society's" face rather than buckle to bribe or threat as a
waitress in an other side of the tracks romance with a med student in
The son of an overly possessive mother, David Livingston falls hard for tip chaser Kitty Lane at a local greasy spoon. Clinging mom is not about to let this happen and she wastes no time in exercising her considerable pull in getting a big time judge relative to send her to the slammer for 90 days on morals charges. Upon release Kitty goes on stage and makes it big. Six years later she runs into David, now a doctor again along with his mother still intent on keeping a firm grip on him.
There is some very ugly abuse of power that takes place in Shopworn as the son obsessed mother badgers the judge to do her corrupt bidding in getting Kitty out of the way. There are also swipes at law enforcement, the penal system and polite society, with Kitty being an ideal lynch pin for such actions. As Kitty, Stanwyck does an excellent job of vociferously exposing hypocrisy, especially in the scene where she is bribed and threatened as she throws the money in the judge's face and berates the police. The ending is contrived however and the sickeningly sweet finale is hard to swallow. Babs is too good for the lot of 'em. Mom and son (a wincingly woosie performance by Regis Toomey) don't deserve to be in the same room as her.
Babs is a poor-but-honest small-town waitress in love with Regis Toomey (which in itself can't be easy), but she runs afoul of his mom, a pre-Auntie Em Clara Blandick, who is revealed to be snobbish, dishonest, unreasonable, and insufferably class-conscious. Even by the standards of the time, where lower-class gals always had a hard time of it crashing into society, Babs must endure endless humiliations, including ZaSu Pitts as an underwritten aunt. This Columbia potboiler, written and shot by folks who were also working on Capra early talkies at the time, is rather like Capra without Capra, and the anonymous direction doesn't allow for much style. But Stanwyck was always worth watching, and she gets to run through an impressive gamut of emotions before the hasty and unconvincing happy ending. And it's satisfyingly short.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As usual Barbara Stanwyck is the best thing in this film, a melodrama
taking a swipe at the rich over the poor, might over right, and lots of
other 'causes'. 'Shopworn''s basic story is rather improbable -
Stanwyck lives out in the sticks with her father, an engineer, when he
is killed in an explosion at his works. She's off to her aunt and uncle
(aunt beautifully played by the reliable ZaSu Pitts) to work in their
greasy spoon but soon attracts the local men with her flirty ways.
One day a customer who is rather more well-heeled comes in (a flat performance from Regis Toomey as the rich mummy's boy - Toomey would be seen in later years in the Salvation Army in 'Guys and Dolls') and Stanwyck falls badly, promising to marry him but getting packed away to a reformatory on morals charges when his ma finds out. So far, so predictable. Now she becomes a stage star - less likely - and returns to Toomey's home town to confront him.
A sparky enough script and reasonably perky acting from some of the principals - Clara Blandick as the overbearing mother for one - and a powerhouse performance from Stanwyck keep you watching. But this film doesn't really know where it is going and the happy ending feels forced and rather unlikely.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Stanwyck is angry, funny, and sweet in this movie. Also she's looks beautiful and doesn't wear much makeup. I never thought of her as a beauty before. The photography is great as well. The story is routine, but I saw it at a theater in San Franciso and the audience applauded enthusiastically afterwards. It was a surprise since all the reviews from the past said the movie was was below average. It had some great dialog, too. I don't think this movie is on TV video or DVD, but see it if you get a chance. Zasu Pitts acts like a human being and has a real role in this movie. At the end of the film, though, she becomes Stanwyck's assistant
I'm surprised no one has reviewed this at all. Well, Barbara Stanwyck made a whole lot of movies, and this one is OK. It's got Zasu Pitts and the usual suspects. Barabara Stanwyck plays a flirty waitress in a college town who takes up with a young lad from an upper class family. Interesting to see how mores have changed. Lots of golly gee lines in this one, lots of upper class snobbery. Truly a different world. In this movie at least Barbara S. doesn't play a total trollop, like Mexicali Rose. In this one she becomes a successful actress, although on the riske side. It's not clear from the film if she went from burlesque to legit, but something along those lines. Interesting flick.
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Barbara Stanwyck plays Kitty Lane, a poor waitress who one days meets David Livingston (Regis Toomey) who is of course rich and comes from a respectable family. The two fall in love and decide to get married but his rather evil mother (Clara Blandick) will stop at nothing to keep them apart. Thinking he has left her, Kitty goes out to make something of herself. SHOPWORN is pretty predictable from start to finish but the attractive cast makes the film worth sitting through and especially since it runs a very fast 68-minutes. There's no question that the screenplay could have used a little work because everything that happens seems rather predictable and unoriginal even for 1932 standards. The poor girl being looked down upon by rich people is something we've seen many times and there's really nothing new done with it here. Even what happens to the character after she becomes famous is pretty standard stuff. What keeps the film moving along so well are the performances and especially the one from Stanwyck. She delivers a really well rounded performance as she perfectly nails both the tough and tender side of the character. Toomey is also quite good as the love interest and there's no question that Blandick does a very good job as the snake-hissing villain. Zasu Pitts is wasted in a supporting role but she's got one funny scene towards the start of the picture. The ending is one you'll see coming from a mile away and at times it gets so silly that I couldn't help but laugh but there's still enough going on here to make it worth viewing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In her tenth film, Barbara Stanwyck is the poor, working girl (Kitty Lane) who only wants to marry the man she loves, but his snobby rich family keeps interfering. Filmed J-u-s-t before the production code came into being, they put her away on "morals charges". Regis Toomey (competent, but Mr. monotone) stars as David Livingston, who wants to marry Kitty, but doesn't have the guts to stand up to his family. They go their separate ways, but meet up again later, when Kitty has become the successful entertainer, although they don't make it clear just what she does for a living now; Wearing rings and fancy jewelry when they meet up again, she tells him "Careful Dave, I'm a notorious, woman, and you'll probably get yourself talked about!" Oscar Apfel (always played the judge or the police chief) and Clara Blandick (Mom Livingston) team up to stop the marriage, but it all works out in the end... One of Nick Grinde's first talkies as Director. He and Zasu Pitts (Dot) had been in silent movies for YEARS before this film. Fun film, no big surprises.
This was a surprise of a film starring Barbara Stanwyck, (Kitty Lane) who plays the role as a waitress in a small town and is liked by everyone. Kitty is a nice gal and is very much in love with a boy named David Livingston, (Regis Toomey) who comes from a rich family and he lives with his mother who loves him very much and is very protective of who he see's and what he does. As a few years pass by, David asks Kitty to marry him, but his mother interferes and contacts a judge who manages to put poor Kitty in a girls reformatory in order to prevent her son from getting married. As many years pass by, David becomes a very successful surgeon and Kitty becomes very well known. This is a very interesting love story and Barbara Stanwyck gave an outstanding performance. Sasu Pitts, (Dot) a veteran actress gave a great supporting role Don't miss this film, it is truly a great Stanwyck Classic Film.
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