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 ...
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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
Society heiress Susan Fletcher (Hopkins) and her wealthy father Simon Fletcher (Henry Stephenson) are vexed that their young nieces Joan (Betty Philson) and Katie (Marianna Strelby) are living a Bohemian lifestyle in Greenwich Village with their artist uncle John (Milland) after the death of their parents (Susan's sister and John's brother). Simon has given up trying to convince John to allow he and Susan to take care of the children and have resorted to using private detectives to catch him in either unbecoming behavior or unemployed and therefore unable to care for the children properly. Susan finally decides to take matters into her own hands and goes to Greenwich Village herself, posing as an actress, to try to gain information and/or persuade him to see reason. What she discovers however, is that she not only likes the free and artistic lifestyle John and his friends are living and that the girls are being brought up well, but that she is quickly falling in love with John. Inevitably, her true identity is discovered and she is faced with the task of convincing everyone on both sides of the custody debate who should belong with whom.
I really enjoyed this film, and found that its very short running time (70 minutes) was the perfect length to spin this simple but endearing story. Miriam Hopkins, one of the great 1930's-1940's actresses is delightful in this film. Her energy, style and wholesome beauty really lend themselves to creating an endearing character, even though you know that she's pulling a fast one on the people she quickly befriends. This is the earliest film I've seen Ray Milland in, and he was actually young and non-patrician looking. (And apparently three years younger than his co-star) His energy and carefree manner in "Wise Girl" were a refreshing change to the demeanor he affects in his usual, darker, films. Honestly, though I am usually not remotely a fan of child actors, I really enjoyed the two young girls who played Susan's nieces. They were endearingly precocious, and were really the jewels of the film. Unfortunately, I can't dig up any other films that either of them were subsequently in after this one, which is a shame since both exhibited a large amount of natural talent.
"Wise Girl" was a film that was made three years after the Hollywood Code was instated, and to some extent, this was abundantly clear by the quick, happy ending, and the pie in the sky loftiness and ease with which the characters lived. The alleged Bohemian co-op was in fact a gorgeous cul-de-sac where the artists lived for free or for trade, and everything is tied up very nicely throughout. Fortunately, this was a light enough film and the characters were charming enough to make allowances for its fluffiness and short-comings and I was able to just take "Wise Girl" for what it was; a good old-fashioned love story that was as entertaining as it was endearing. Unfortunately, films of the romantic comedy/drama genre today are considerably less intelligent and entertaining, or I wouldn't find myself continuously returning to the classics. 7/10
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