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Raised by a flamboyant and irresponsible mother, Ziggy Brennan (played
by Mona Freeman) gets involved in hustling men at a young age. She
hangs around with a wild crowd and learns gets her "street smarts"
first from her mother (who wants everyone to think they are sisters)
then from an older man. He starts teaching her his tricks of the trade
and she falls right in line with his crooked ways. Then one night she
meets a tall, handsome, honest farmer boy who's a soldier and they fall
in love. While he's away fighting the war, she discovers she's
I won't say more so as not to spoil it. But I found the ethics that this film teaches to be something sorely missing in our films nowadays. Suffice it to say that even though she goes through some heartbreaking experiences, she reforms her ways and there is a happy ending.
Probably not a film that most young people would enjoy. Not any action and some parts drag a bit, but it's Frank Capra type of message left me with a good feeling. Baby-boomers will most likely love it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The film begins on Mother's Day, 1938 when 14-year-old Ziggy Brennan
(Mona Freeman) buys a gardenia for her mother. Ziggy's youthful
exuberance disappears when she enters their apartment and finds her
mother, Natalie (June Duprez), drinking with a strange man. Natalie
introduces Ziggy as her "sister" and quietly cautions Ziggy against
calling her "mother." Later, dispensing some motherly-advice, Natalie
tells Ziggy that if she learns all the tricks, she'll never have to
work for a living. Ziggy goes right out and applies parts of this
advice by stealing a valuable lapel pin from a fellow high-school
student, and is promptly expelled from school.
About five years later, Ziggy has made progress and meets Denny Reagan (James Dunn), who persuades her to go into his racket. Ziggy's role is to telephone people who are planning to move and make arrangements to provide a truck to move the furniture. The departing truck is the last that the owners see of their furniture as it is taken to a warehouse and sold by Denny and his gang.
Hanging out in a nightclub one evening, circa 1943, the still-underage Ziggy flirts with a young naval officer from Minnesota, Mart Neilson (William Marshall), who promptly falls in love with Ziggy and proposes marriage. Ziggy, to ensure that Mart knows her background, introduces him to Natalie (at her worst), but Mart doesn't change his mind and still insists on the marriage. Shortly after the wedding ceremony, Mart is shipped out to war-duty and is killed in action.
Ziggy learns that she is expecting a baby, while the law catches up to Denny and ships him out to prison. Ziggy is still living with her mother but Natalie, horrified at the prospect of being a grandmother, kicks her out and Ziggy moves into Mrs. Merryman's (Rosalind Ivan) boarding-house. Ziggy has the baby and some time passes, circa 1944-45, and Ziggy---still making her nightclub rounds---runs into the just-paroled Denny. This Denny is a new-and-thoughtful version, and he does not approve of Ziggy leaving her baby with a sitter while she makes her rounds. Denny shows great interest in the baby and sees more and more of Ziggy. Returing from a date, Ziggy finds the baby's crib vacant. In her absence the baby-sitter had gone out to her boyfriend's car for some heavy necking and, in her absence, the baby had almost choked to death before being discovered by Mrs. Merryman, who promptly called the police.
At the trial, the baby-sitter denies responsibility (negligence-of-duty)and Ziggy loses custody of her baby. The new-and-thoughtful Denny will have nothing to do with Ziggy, even though his mother (Dorothy Vaughn), knowing that Denny and Ziggy really love each other tries to bring them together. But...Ziggy has disappeared.
Ziggy, having moved to another boardinghouse, drops by a church and, plot-wise convenient, promptly finds an abandoned baby. Later, Denny finds her, while she and the baby are sunning in a park, and he is greatly impressed with new-and-thoughtful mother-instincts, and he is convinced that she has become a perfect mother.
With Denny's help, Ziggy appeals her case in order to regain custody of her own child and, when the judge learns that she has been caring for an abandoned baby, he is much impressed and returns her own infant to her. (Most judges would have inquired as to why she didn't drop off the abandoned-baby at the nearest abandoned-baby sub-station but that wouldn't have made for the happy ending with Ziggy and Denny and "their" two babies looking forward to a bight-and-happy future together.)
This May-December pairing of Dunn and Freeman came when Dunn was 45---and looking every day of it---and Freeman was twenty--and still looking fourteen. Dorothy Vaughn, who played Dunn's mother, was only eleven years older than Dunn. But this was before the days when actors could bombard the IMDb with requests-slash-demands to change their actual birth-dates, and in the days when real-good actors could play over-or-under their real age. The question wasn't how old are you, it was can you act? Evidently, some of the IMDb change-DOB demanders can't.
This film was also one of the rare instances when Republic gave a studio-contract employee a Producer credit rather than the studio's standard Associate Producer credit.
I saw this film last night on Youtube and it's remarkably good. Mona
Freeman gives a stunning performance as Ziggy, the young and troubled
heroine of the movie.
This is the kind of part that somebody like Jean Simmons or even Audrey Hepburn might have fitted well into. And Mona Freeman's acting here stands up to anything they might have done in the part. The rest of the cast are equally fine. Had this movie been made by one of the bigger studios of the day it would,I think, have been better none. It certainly deserves to be better none as it's definitely more than a B picture.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I say that this is a strange film, this is not an insult. It's
just one of those rare films that you can't categorize and is like
Mona Freeman plays 'Ziggy' Brennan--a young and very irresponsible young lady. The film then goes back in time and you see how she developed into the seemingly sociopathic lady she'd become when the film began. Her mother had absolutely no motherly feelings towards her and Ziggy grew up finding mostly for herself. At first she's a nice kid but given her upbringing she soon spirals into a good-time girl and thief. Rather inexplicably, she falls in love with a nice sailor during the war but he's soon killed--leaving her pregnant and almost completely incompetent when it comes to parenting. Can she make a go of it or are she and the baby doomed? Tune in and see.
The reason this is such an off film is that Freeman does not exactly play a sympathetic character and the story is, at least until late in the film, is unlike the usual Hollywood formulaic pieces. It does sink into sentimentality a tad at the end, but this worked as most really would not want to see a film with absolutely no sense of redemption or change. This is nice and the film is worth a look.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When Mona Freeman was given a chance to expand her range on "That
Brennan Girl" she jumped at the chance. In the Adela Rogers St. John
story she was required to age from 11 to 25 but critics weren't
impressed and felt her performance didn't rise to the weighty story.
The truth was she looked too young and that seemed to be why her career
never got off the ground. Her first part was going to be as Barbara
Stanwyck's step daughter in "Double Indemnity" but she was replaced as
she photographed like a young teen, another part that was taken from
her was as Elizabeth Taylor's older sister in "National Velvet", she
was thought to look younger than Taylor so Angela Lansbury replaced
If Freeman looked too young - she makes poor James Dunn look ancient!! With his weather beaten face (courtesy of too much alcohol) he looked just too old and careworn to be playing a hot shot con man full of big ideas! He didn't win an Academy Award for nothing (although it did nothing to boost his career) and he really comes into his own and gives out some Irish charm in the scenes with his mother.
This film is a showcase for Mona and from the time she is introduced as her mother's sister she becomes an eager pupil for her mother's creed - which is "don't let your looks go to waste, take men for everything you can get and you can never start too young"!!! After being expelled from school she is plunged into Natalie's world and catches the eye of fast talking Denny (Dunn) who gives her a job convincing customers (usually older, well heeled ones) that when moving house they simply must use "Denny's Removalists" - and that is usually the last people see of their precious possessions!!
When Ziggy meets naval officer, Martin Neilson, she falls for his obvious sincerity but when she finds herself a war widow with a baby it is all too easy to slip back into club life. This movie has more plots than a "soapie" and you just know things are not going to be good when the young high school girl (Shirley Mills) that Ziggy has hired is keener to go riding with the boys than stay put looking after the baby. The juvenile authorities are alerted and suddenly Ziggy is up before a judge on a suspended sentence and the baby is in care!!
It was a big stretch to have beautiful June Duprez (for whom Technicolor seemed to be made ie "The Four Feathers", "The Thief of Bagdad" etc) and who was only 8 years older than Mona Freeman having to play her mother!! She pulled it off though, looking like a big sister in the first scenes but later looking much older as her playgirl lifestyle catches up with her. She was British but quickly went to Hollywood to cash in on her fame and as the British equivalent to Maria Montez but unfortunately her agent asked for too high a salary and she found herself almost unemployable.
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