22 April 2007 | blanche-2
not terribly enjoyable
A great cast can't help this dated look at "Finishing School," from 1934. I decided to watch it based on the presence of Frances Dee and Ginger Rogers, both of whom are always delightful. They are here, too.
Francis Dee plays a young woman, Virginia, who is sent to finishing school at the behest of her shallow mother (Billie Burke). She is turned over to the head of the school (Beulah Bondi) and given a set of rules. When she meets her roommate (Rogers) and her roommate's wild crowd, she discovers that the only one paying attention to rules is her. She agrees to go away for a weekend with Rogers, friends, and Rogers' aunt (an actress playing a role). Then it's a wild time in the city, especially when Virginia meets Dr. Ralph McFarland, who works as a waiter (read: unacceptable job) while doing his internship. They fall in love, but the upper crust at the school, only interested in appearances, attempt to break them up. Alas, it's a little too late for that. And you really have to be sharp to figure out why! I'd like to think this sort of thing has gone out of style, but I have a nagging feeling that it hasn't. Can there really still be places that teach one the difference between a tea and a reception, and how many calling cards to leave when people are not at home? Well, they still do have débutante balls, so maybe there are - but let's face it, "coming out" parties have a new meaning today. We do know that there is still a lot of shallowness in the world, so perhaps "Finishing School" isn't so dated after all.
Bruce Cabot is enjoyable and good-looking as Virginia's suitor, and there is a nice performance from Anne Shirley, who wants to fit in with the older set. Rogers stands out as usual in her supporting role and keeps the pace going. Dee was so pretty and natural, it's a shame she left movies, but hey, I would have done that - and more - for Joel McCrea.
Interesting for the cast and as a look at an upper class woman's responsibilities back in the '30s.