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Letty, a young woman who ended up pregnant, unmarried and on the streets at fifteen is bitter and determined that her child will not grow up to be taken advantage of. Letty teaches her child to lie, steal, cheat and anything else he'll need to be street smart. We meet Letty when Mickey is 7-1/2. Mal enters the picture when his truck and Mickey, who is hanging on to the back of a delivery truck and being pulled along the streets on his roller skates, collide. Mickey is not injured badly, but when Letty discovers that Mal is rich, she concocts a scheme to take Mal to the cleaners. When her plot is uncovered, Letty is also discovered for the unfit parent that she is, and Mickey is taken away from her. Mal and his wife Alice, unable to have children of their own, take Mickey in and give him a father's love, a true mother's love, and a home he can call his own. Letty is jealous of Mickey's growing attachment to these two good people and she still sees Mal as a ticket to riches. Letty ... Written by
This is the type of Pre-Code film that makes you curse the Hayes Code and the Catholic Legion of Decency. It is more serious and adult orientated movie than almost any movie for the next 20 years.
You have ambiguous lead characters who are allowed to be both good and bad people, so you can't really guess how things will turn out. The Hayes Code pretty much separated characters into good and bad and you could easily guess who would be rewarded (the good) and who would be punished (the bad).
Loretta Young is the revelation here. She looks a bit like Liza Minnelli in "Cabaret" and she seems to genuinely enjoy breaking social customs and taboos. She reminded me of Joan Crawford's character in "Rain". Her determination to seduce Cary Grant away from his wife still manages to shock us, or at least me, in 2010.
I know that Loretta Young hosted an anthology television series in the 1950's, which was rerun in the daytime through the 1960's. As a child, I found it quite boring and never watched it. I'm sure I would find it fascinating today.
The lackluster boy actor is the only weak part of the film. Young plays their scenes with genuine warmth, but the kid just gives us an early version of the East Side Kids caricature.
Cary Grant is his usual good guy self, but undergoes quite an unusual transformation. It is rare when Grant does something to alienate the audience in a movie, as he does here. He seems in complete control, but Loretta's sexiness causes him to lose his cool persona.
In most films we root for a mother who is going to lose her wayward son to state institutions. Here, we almost root against her getting her kid back. All in all, a fine film.
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