The small-town prudes of Lynnfield are up in arms over 'The Sinner,' a sexy best-seller. They little suspect that author 'Caroline Adams' is really Theodora Lynn, scion of the town's leading family. Michael Grant, devil-may-care book jacket illustrator, penetrates Theodora's incognito and sets out to 'free her' from Lynnfield against her will. But Michael has a secret too, and gets a taste of his own medicine. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Irene Dunne breaks out of small town conventions in "Theodora Goes Wild," a 1936 comedy also starring Melvyn Douglas, Thomas Mitchell and Spring Byington. Dunne plays Theodora, who lives a sterile life with her two aunts in a small, Puritan, judgmental town. However, she's got them all beat because she's living a double life - in New York City, she's Caroline Adams, a hot romance novelist who put the capital L in LOVE. Her scandalous best-seller is in the process of being banned by the town literary society. While in New York visiting her disapproved of uncle, she meets a friend of her publisher's, the flirtatious, irreverent Michael (Douglas). He doesn't know her real name or her literary alter ego so to prove to him she's no prude, she gets drunk and goes to his apartment - of course, she leaves screaming - but in doing so, drops a few papers that tell him who she is and where she lives. He soon shows up in her home town as a down on his luck man seeking work and she's more or less blackmailed into giving him a job as the family gardener.
This is a delightful comedy buoyed by the marvelous acting of Irene Dunne and Melvyn Douglas. The points are hit a little too hard, however, so that both characters come off as very annoying and exasperating at times. The fault lies in the script, because I don't think those two actors ever made a wrong move. Douglas, who in later life would prove himself one of the great actors of all time, sails through this film as he sailed through so many others in roles that gave no hint of his enormous abilities. Here he's charming, smooth and attractive, inspiring Theodora to take some risks - though he's got a few skeletons he fails to mention to her. Dunne is great as the staid spinster who becomes the talk of New York with her wild outfits, saucy attitude, and smart remarks.
Underneath it all, of course, it's a love story some innuendo you don't find in a lot of '30s comedies, which adds to the fun. Highly recommended.
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