9 November 2018 | boblipton
Ladies of the Chorus
Dorothy Phillips is a new chorus girl, invited to a party by her friend, Juanita Hansen (whose character has the unfortunate name of Cherry Blow), where there are plenty of rich men. One, Harry von Meter, has lost all his money and she has to talk him out of killing himself. Another, William Stowell, offers to take her home before the drenching she has taken turns into a cold, and assaults her in his car.
Miss Phillips jumps from the moving car and is injured. Stowell is thoroughly ashamed, and pays for the hospital and the doctor-ordered seashore rest. There's also Lon Chaney as a thoroughly unpleasant fellow from Miss Phillips' home town. He also attacks her and has to thrown out by Miss Hansen's maid.
In sum, all the men want Miss Phillips, with or without her consent. It's a disquieting movie, but not because of that. It's Miss Phillips' acceptance of the situation that's bad.
Quite logically, that's the feeling that director and co-screenwriter Ida May Parks wanted the audience to walk away with. Add in the fact that this is a Universal Bluebird movie (their middle-budgeted line) with a studio-mandated happy ending, and steam all but pours from my ears.
Thematically I see a lot in common with the sort of gold-digging comedies that Warners produced in the late silent and early sound era. In those, however, the women are hard-boiled types, for whom love is a commercial transaction -- except for Ruby Keeler, whose happy plots end in a marriage knot. In this one, when Miss Hansen says she hates men, Miss Philips rebukes her; she feels worthless and seeks her revenge on men for making her feel that way.
It would work in a cynical comedy. Here, it's all a little solemn and continual, with never a break from solemn moralizing. I prefer the occasional breath so I can go back to the hard movie with renewed attention. There's not that here.