Review

  • Warning: Spoilers
    Lawrence Grey had quickly been promoted from unit production manager to leading man at Paramount and he went through the 1920s as a solid support to some of the screen's most popular actresses. When MGM saw the good notices he garnered for his work with Marion Davies, Bernice Claire and the Duncan Sisters, they rewarded him with the lead in "Children of Pleasure" a modest programmer that took advantage of the musical mad times and Grey's pleasing but modest vocal talents. Based on a play "The Song Writer" by Crane Wilbur, an early matinee idol who had since turned his hands to other behind the scenes talents, it was about Danny, a young singer song writer and his two very different women. Pat (Helen Johnson) is an heiress who determines that marriage with Danny is not going to end her affair with actor Rod Peck (Kenneth Thomson boo hiss). Emma Gray (Wynne Gibson) was Danny's former vaudeville partner and is now a co-worker in a Tin Pan Alley publishing house and is also true blue in her devotion. I know within a couple of years Gibson's movie personality would not be described as adorable but she definitely was in this movie!!!

    Danny is on cloud nine and dreams of a quiet wedding but Pat has big wedding plans - just before they walk down the aisle Danny overhears Pat flippantly proposing that she still keep up her relations with Rod. To his credit Rod is horrified but Danny goes to pieces and on a bender. It is Emma who finds him and tries to sober him up but while still under the influence he asks Emma to marry him. Realising he is still on the rebound she devises an ingenious plan!!

    If anyone stood out in this pretty so-so movie it was Wynne Gibson - could this be the actress who the next year gave Sylvia Sidney such a hard time in "Ladies of the Big House"? Here she was sparkling and snappy and she really put over her song - there was a voice there!! Helen Johnson was pretty enough as Pat - she later changed her name to Judith Woods and wowed them on Broadway in "Dinner at Eight". Benny Rubin and May Boley provided the comic relief and with Kenneth Thomson playing the cad with a heart there was not much for poor Lawrence Grey to do - the movie proved he was better at supporting dazzling leading ladies than having to carry a whole movie.

    The songs seemed to pick up in catchiness as the movie went on - I know "Leave it That Way" seemed promoted as the song hit but "The Whole Darned Thing's For You" was the movie toe-tapper in my opinion. It was sung at the bridal party and a popular band The Biltmore Trio joined in. Big musical number was the ambitious "Dust" which in any other movie of the time would have been the finale but here was presented 15 minutes in. A combination of "Dancing the Devil Away" and "I Want to Be Bad" - meaning lots of odd costumes, billowing smoke and an original Technicolor sequence although now only remaining in black and white. It had dancers on tiers with a few of the better ones out front, none better than Ann Dvorak who was giving it all she had. Unfortunately for most of her dance, the photography was bad and you couldn't see her feet!! If the sets looked similar to the "Singin' in the Rain" sequence from "Hollywood Revue of 1929" it's because the see through drapes were first used in that earlier movie.

    Very Recommended.