8 February 2008 | drednm
William Haines Gets Serious
In one of his final films for MGM, William Haines seems rather subdued here in a film that starts out as a romantic comedy/drama but then turns into a murder melodrama. If nothing else, this film proves that Haines could play it "straight" and not always fall back on his "silly billy" character.
Haines plays a radio writer married to (but separated from) a sullen and greedy woman (Karen Morley) while he romances a co-worker (Madge Evans). Morley will not give up her meal ticket and bleeds Haines of everything he's got. But after he loses his job, Morley goes berserk and is accidentally killed.
In a subplot, Evans' roommate (Anita Page) who works at the radio station, takes in her kid sister (Joan Marsh) who goes wild in the big city and gets involved with older men (Jean Hersholt, Neil Hamilton).
In a neat twist, the radio, which is at first seen as a mindless form of entertainment, spoofed via the hokey shows Haines writes, turns deadly as a ruthless newspaper man (John Miljan) uses the radio to persecute and hunt down Haines after the death of his wife.
It seems like two films combined into one in a minor MGM film, but there are some interesting themes here. The ending is quite surprising.
As always, Haines is terrific. Evans and Page are solid here as is Morley as the nasty wife. Co-stars include Wallace Ford, Hattie McDaniel, Ethel Griffies, Herman Bing, Louise Carter, and Charley Grapewin.
The title comes from the catchphrase of early radio star Tony Wons.