Monday, August 3, 2009

PreCode Cary Grant

Last week, we saw Cary Grant in a small roll.  This week, we watched Hot Saturday, a 1932 film in which Cary Grant took second billing to star Nancy Carroll. Ms. Carroll plays Ruth Brock, a small-town bank clerk, who likes to have fun (the weekly Hot Saturday), but is basically a "good girl".  She is being wooed by several young men, including local man-about-town Romer Sheffield (Cary Grant).  He is open in his unwillingness to ever marry, but finds her attractive, and tells her so. She, on the other hand, is looking for marriage, and while she likes Romer, is unwilling to compromise her principles for a fling.  In order to see her again, Romer invites Ruth's date (Connie - played by Edward Woods, known for his turn as James Cagney's brother in Public Enemy) to his home for a party. Connie accepts, but is infuriated by Romer's attentions to Ruth, and further angered when Ruth rebuffs his forceful attempts at lovemaking.  The next day, he and his new date, Eva (Lillian Bond), insinuate that Romer and Ruth are lovers - gossip that spreads through the town like wildfire.

We were very intrigued by the "racy bits" in this movie - and there were several. Ruth forceably removing the bloomers  that her younger sister (Annie) steals from Ruth's drawer right from sister Annie's body; Ruth, awakening, stark naked, after being drenched in a storm (and her undergarments clearly displayed on a line, just in case we were unsure that she was totally undressed); the fairly frank discussions between Romer (and we loved his name. It is pronounced ROAMER) and Ruth about marriage vs. involvement; Connie's physical attack on Ruth (complete with the "you owe me this" routine).  Small-town American life is displayed as provincial and bigoted - telephone conversations escalate the rumors concerning Ruth's night with Romer, til it is clear she is a "loose woman". An precursor to the 1960's Peyton Place?
This is Cary Grant's sixth film, and the first in which he appears with best friend Randolph Scott; they only have a brief scene togetherOf course, even at this early stage of his career, Grant is just wonderful. His Romer is appealing, yet it is understandable why Ruth resists him. Unlike Connie, he is a gentleman, taking her rejection with calmly. 

Nancy Carroll is also appealing as Ruth - she is NOT a tease. She is quite open with all of her dates about her goals. But the opportunity for a Hot Saturday is just too much for some of them to reject. Here's a clip:

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