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Ellie Mae lives on Primrose Hill with her good-hearted and fancy free mother, her drunken father, her younger sister and a mean-spirited grandmother. The Hill is not a good part of town, however. When she meets and falls for a hard-working man, they marry and she hides her past from him. When he discovers the truth it jeopardizes their marriage. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <email@example.com>
A good melodrama about a marriage created by lies and soured when the truth emerges, all with top-notch acting.
I thoroughly enjoyed the acting in this film: Ginger Rogers as the daughter of prostitute Marjorie Rambeau (an Oscar nomination), who supports the family; Joel McCrea as the man Rogers sort of ropes into marrying; Miles Mander as her educated alcoholic father, who can translate Greek but is otherwise useless and knows it; Queenie Vassar as her grandmother, an ex-prostitute who would rather see Rogers become a prostitute than settle down with McCrea; and the remarkable young child actress, Joan Carroll as Rogers' young sassy kid sister. Her rendition of the poem "Don't Swat Your Mother, Boys" was a hoot. When McCrea meets Rogers as she digs for clams, and steals a kiss (her first one) as he starts to gives her a lift home, she falls in love. That night she goes to see McCrea at the Bluebell Club and lies when she says she's run away and can't return, never mentioning her family for fear of alienating him. They marry, but of course the truth comes out eventually, creating a rift. The acting is so natural I felt as though I was looking into a window observing the lives of these people.
The word "prostitute" is never mentioned (it would have given the 1940 censors apoplexy), but it was obvious anyway. Still, the film was banned in Detroit, and the play was modified to placate those censors. Queenie Vassar was primarily a stage actress; this was her first film.
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