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Kay is a girl living in a small rural town whose life is just too dull and repetitious to bear. One night, she meets young, handsome, and rich Bob Dakin, who asks her for directions while drunk and then proceeds to take her out on a night on the town. Kay likes the stranger, and when the drunken Bob decides that they should get married, Kay hesitates little before consenting. The morning after the affair, Bob, once sober, regrets his mistake. His strict and upright parents, however, insist that the young couple pretend marriage for 6 months before divorcing, in order to avoid bad publicity. Bob resents Kay for standing in the way of him and his fiancée, Priscilla, but Kay still hopes that he'd have a change of heart. Written by
For most of her career Janet Gaynor did nothing, but play small town girls, the best known being Esther Blodgett. But I've seen her in films like State Fair and Three Loves Has Nancy and it's the same part, the girl from the tiny hamlet who conquers the big city and the men in it. With a title like this, there was only one casting possibility.
Janet's a girl who's thoroughly stuck in a rut in her New England hamlet and yearns for a little adventure. She finds it in the person of Robert Taylor, a young doctor who comes from a wealthy Boston family. After a night's carousing Gaynor and Taylor are married, to the chagrin of his fiancé, Binnie Barnes and her boyfriend James Stewart.
Remember this is Boston so Taylor's father Lewis Stone prevails on Taylor to give the marriage a few months trial. Of course this is where the balance of the story comes in. In many ways this plot seems like a harbinger of The Way We Were.
Taylor's career was now in full swing as Small Town Girl was the next film after his breakout performance in Magnificent Obsession. Remember in that film he was a playboy who became a doctor. Here's he's a doctor who doubles as a playboy. Never mind though, feminine hearts all over the English speaking world were fluttering over MGM's latest heartthrob. My mother who was a juvenile at this time told me that Taylor's appeal back in these days was just about the same as Elvis's.
James Stewart was at the beginning of his career as well as MGM had him in about seven features in 1936, mostly in support. Interesting though with worse career management, he could have gone on playing hick roles like Elmer the boyfriend. But it was also obvious there was a spark of stardom with him as well.
Gaynor would leave the screen a few years later, Taylor was at the beginning of his career. He'd have better acting roles in his future, but for now Small Town Girl is a great example of the screen heartthrob he was at the beginning of his stardom. Fans of both stars will like what they see in Small Town Girl.
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