THE BOYFRIENDS was Hal Roach's unsuccessful attempt at making a OUR GANG type series aimed at and starring teenagers (or actors in their early twenties passing as teens). Fifteen movies were made 1930-32, and occasionally featured actors who had outgrown the OUR GANG series, notably Mickey Daniels, one of the more famous kids in the series from the silent era. The series largely centers on Mickey and buddies Dave (David Sharpe) and Alabam (Grady Sutton) and their love troubles with girls. LADIES LAST is one of the better ones in the series as the boys lead a revolt "boycotting" women because of their pushy girlfriends insisting they wear monkey suits to the upcoming dance, basically LYSISTRATA in reverse. Trouble is the girl-crazy guys have to watch their pals to make sure the other doesn't break the strike. The girls meanwhile come up with a ingenious way to arouse their jealousy.
The story inexplicably brings in a couple of crooks to the story toward the end (why are they there? There's no one but a bunch of teenagers partying, not exactly a potential goldmine to rob.) The acting unfortunately leaves a lot to be desired. These "teens" have nowhere near the charisma and natural acting ability as their younger counterparts in the OUR GANG series. Grady Sutton went on to become a talented character actor but his performance is very uneven here. He's cast as an the exceptionally lazy Alabam (he puts a "reserved" sign in his hammock when he's not in it and in one of the better gags, is so lazy he has trained his dog to open the door for him) which is probably the reason for his "tired" delivery of lines. Mickey Daniels' eccentric form of comedy is definitely not for everyone and most of the starlets are rather unpolished in their performances. On the other hand, David Sharpe not only gives a totally natural performance but he's quite handsome (with a startlingly contemporary look unlike his costars who are very much locked into early 1930's) and is something of a miniature Tyrone Power, one wonders why his career didn't take off to more than bit parts which lead him to work mostly as a stunt man in Hollywood.
The movie does have a bit of a quirky charm though as a rare chance to see genuinely young people from the era playing kids in love. And Sutton actually does get a great last line and accompanying sight gag that is unusually (and literally!) low-comedy for a movie from this period.
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