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Josephine Spiggins is thinking of marrying John Spear, the stuffed-shirt son of a department store owner. When John's free-spirit brother Tony returns from touring the South Seas in his boat, the "Vagabond Lady," Jo is attracted to him instead. Written by
Diana Hamilton <email@example.com>
Department store owner R.D. Spear (Berton Churchill) is a stuffy businessman and his son Johnny (Reginald Denny) is following in his father's footsteps. But their orderly world is shaken up with the surprise return of Johnny's fun-loving brother Tony (Robert Young), who'd been sailing abroad for several years.
Jo Spiggins (Evelyn Venable), the daughter of Mr. Spear's old college chum, grew up with Johnny and Tony and now Johnny has asked her to marry him. But Tony really brings out the kid in Jo, and they both enjoy fun things like going to circuses and chewing on gumdrops. Johnny is all about dignity and highbrow culture (operas, etc.). He realizes that Jo doesn't share his tastes in the finer things, but hopes to groom her to be on his level of sophistication.
It's so cute to see Jo and Tony together. Her face lights up when she sees him and it's like they're kids again, thick as thieves. There's a big difference in the way she acts with Johnny and the way she acts with Tony. Johnny stifles her more playful, childish instincts, while Tony embraces them.
Having not seen her in years, Tony doesn't realize that he has any romantic feelings toward Jo until her father (Frank Craven) suggests it. (Jo's father wants to save his daughter from marrying the stuffy Johnny, and notes her interest in "good ol' Tony".) As his brother points out, Tony has never really grown up, but in the scene where he realizes how much he cares about Jo you can see the transformation in him. Unfortunately, ghosts from Tony's wild past send Jo running back to stable, boring Johnny.
The movie shows how passionately Jo and Tony feel about each other by how heated their arguments get. And when they start throwing things at each other and tossing each other over furniture, we know they're in love. Strange as it may seem, it's cute to watch. Exhausted from their fight, they collapse into each other's arms.
I wasn't expecting much from this movie, but it managed to charm me. Evelyn Venable is very pretty as Jo and it's immediately clear that she belongs with Tony, not Johnny. Robert Young and Reginald Denny both do well in their parts. Frank Craven is great as Jo's father, particularly in the scene where he gauges Jo's interest in Tony by the way she defends him against disparaging remarks. With charming performances by the cast and some great little comedic moments, VAGABOND LADY (1935) is an enjoyable, if inconsequential, romantic comedy.
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