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Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Snooty heiress decides to track down her dead sister's kids, who are living a Bohemian life with their uncle in Greenwich Village. Once she finds them, she discovers that the Bohemian life is fun and free of the constraints her country-club life places on her. But she decides to take the uncle to court anyway to free him from the kids so he can paint. Written by
Years later the plot device of a paternal uncle and maternal aunt in a custody battle was used in the Clark Gable/Sophia Loren classic, It Happened In Naples. Only in that it was Sophia who was the Bohemian and Clark the square. Wise Girl does not have the international setting or the color location cinematography of the later film, but Ray Milland and Miriam Hopkins do play a pair of spirited antagonists.
Miriam's father Henry Stephenson who is rich enough to spoil Miriam had cut off her sister back when she married out of her class. Now with both his daughter and son-in-law dead he'd like custody of his two granddaughters. Miriam will be his accomplice in that endeavor.
But the trick is to get them away from their uncle Ray Milland who has them. He's a struggling artist and he supports the girls with odd jobs here and there. Miriam moves into Greenwich Village incognito to be near them all and naturally as things go in these type films she falls for Milland.
Looking at the set I can see where Alfred Hitchcock got the idea for his Greenwich Village set in Rear Window. And we meet a whole lot of colorful characters there and not just through a telescope. Milland's closest friends are prizefighter Guinn Williams and aspiring actor Walter Abel who has a bit of a thirst problem. Marianna Strelby and Kim Philson play the two young girls and Margaret Dumont has a great small part as the snooty woman running the Child Welfare League.
Wise Girl may not show Miriam Hopkins at her wisest, but it's a great comedy in the screwball tradition of the Thirties. Best scene is the chaos she causes at one of Guinn Williams' prizefights. Milland has his moments as well, especially trying to unsuccessfully sell vacuum cleaners door to door. All in all a lot of laughs.
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