15 August 2006 | Ursula_Two_Point_Seven_T
Mildly enjoyable timepiece -- despite being made in 1930, it lacks a lot of pre-codey goodiness
With a title like "Lovin' the Ladies" and it being made in 1930, and there being a tremendous dearth of pre-codes lately on TCM ... well, I was hoping for some juicy pre-Production Code entertainment, but alas that was not the case with this flick. Nonetheless, at less than 75 minutes, it was face-paced and mildly amusing enough. As with a lot of these really old movies, I found I enjoyed it for the cultural references and peak into the past.
The phrase "make love" was used a lot ... it seems to have *not* meant what we mean by that phrase today. In 1930, that phrase seemed to mean something more along the lines of "pitch woo". At any rate, it was quite funny to hear Richard Dix tell the group of socialites that Jimmy was going to pay him $2,500 to make love to Betty!
A reference was made to "Decoration Day", which from the context I took to mean some sort of patriotic and/or veteran-related holiday, perhaps a precursor to Memorial Day?
The acting was fairly wooden and stagy ... typical of early sound flicks, so having seen many early sounds, I wasn't too bothered by it, but it would definitely be annoying to modern audiences not used to that transitional style of "acting". Richard Dix did quite well with his role. I haven't seen him in a lot of flicks, but my impression is that westerns were more his forte. If so, this movie demonstrated that he could handle light comedy fairly well.
Dix plays an electrician who is talked into pretending to be a society gentleman by Jimmy, a rich ne'er-do-well who makes a bet with his buddy that he can make any two people fall in love given the right circumstances. His buddy, George, selects electrician Peter and snooty rich girl Betty as the two subjects. Predictable plot ensues, where Peter is more interested in Joan (Jimmy's fiancé), Joan is interested in Peter, Betty is interested in Brooks the butler (and Brooks seems to return Betty's interest), and yet a third woman, Louise, is at one point so overcome with lust that she practically ravages a very unwilling and uncomfortable Peter.
The plot was amusing and predictable, and although somewhat racy, not really racy enough to qualify as a genuine "pre-Code" despite its 1930 date.
There were a couple of amusing lines that made me laugh out loud. The premise behind them both is that Peter and Brooks, the working class guys, were more highly educated and knowledgeable than the buffoon "swells" whom they work for. Here's the two lines:
1 - George to Jimmy, "Do you mean to say your butler knows more than you or I do?". Jimmy's reply, "Don't be silly, George. He knows *twice* as much as I do, and a million times more than you do!"
2 - Brooks to Peter, upon seeing Peter for the first time in his fancy clothes, "Why Peter, if I didn't know you were an intelligent man, I'd certainly think you were a gentleman!" (the word 'gentleman' being a derogatory term in this context)
Another interesting timepiece thing: The movie used a couple of silent era-style intertitles to set the scene, for example, "The following morning." From a historical standpoint, it was slightly interesting to me to see this device borrowed by the infant sound picture from its well-established but firmly though recently departed ancestor, the silent film.
Richard Dix fairly acquitted himself. I enjoyed seeing Anthony Bushell (whom I remember fondly from one of my favorite pre-Codes, Five Star Final) as the butler. The other actors and actresses were just so-so ... ranging from occasionally good (the actor who played Jimmy) to downright dreadful (the actress who played Betty).
I wouldn't go out of my way to watch this if I were you, but if you have an interest in old movies from a cultural or historical standpoint, this movie does have a modicum to offer in that area.