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  • fsilva9 November 2002
    Thanks to a fine and intelligent script by Norman Krasna and to some very good acting, this is a very entertaining and charming little film, about a "poor" rich girl (sort of Barbara Hutton type), seeking for true, "uninterested" love.

    Miriam Hopkins is very good and looks pretty as Miss Dorothy Hunter, "the richest girl in the world", and works very well for the first time (they did four more pictures in the following years) with Joel McCrea, who is thoroughly believable as a regular average guy, being (unknowingly) tested by this heiress, who's pretending to be a secretary.

    Beautiful Fay Wray, who had worked with McCrea once in 1932, in the very good chiller "The Most Dangerous Game", also at RKO, is excellent as the heroine's pal and secretary, Sylvia, who has to pass as the millionairess, and old pro Henry Stephenson is just right as Hopkin's Tutor.

    This nice little movie (short by to today's standards) has good pacing, real, likeable romance and some funny (not so screwballish)situations, even some pretty racy ones (due to the fact that "married" Sylvia impersonates "single" Dorothy), considering it was made in the 1930s, so I believe it must have been released before the Production Code was fully enforced in 1934.
  • Miriam Hopkins was an excellent Broadway actress who found a wonderful career in films, even if she never achieved legendary status. In this 1934 movie, she plays the richest woman in the world, undoubtedly a take-off on Barbara Hutton. Desiring to find a man who can love her for herself and not her money, she and her secretary switch identities when there's a potential suitor around.

    The game gets dicey when Hopkins meets the man of her dreams, Joel McCrea, and let's face it, he was the man of many women's dreams - tall, handsome, boyish, and athletic. The story continues from there with the usual mix-ups.

    As one of the posters pointed out, the secretary, played by the beautiful Fay Wray, is a married woman, which means that Hopkins is actually posing as a married woman and Wray as a single one - this is a long way of saying the film was probably released before the code hit.

    Hopkins and McCrea made a good duo, and good thing, because they appeared together several times. This is a pleasant and short comedy, worth seeing for its stars and '30s ambiance.
  • I came to this film because I'd just seen its musical remake, The French Line, a campy colour affair with Jane Russell, 'presented by' Howard Hughes. The French Line isn't unwatchable, although one may want to peep through one's fingers during the cowgirl dance number, but it is outstandingly dated in terms of male-female relations. Jane Russell's richest-girl-in-the-world is warned from the start that she will put men off with her rootin' tootin' tomboyish get-up & behaviour, but it's her money and power that will really convince them she's wearing the pants.

    I am mad about Joel McCrea and I like Hopkins a lot. I wanted to see what the original was like. And of course, because it's the 30s there's no such issue. Men and women can be knockabout pals, Joel McCrea is enchanted when Hopkins thrashes him at billiards, they get drunk together, fall asleep smoochily together and the happy ending is wonderfully engineered: you relax your modern PC concerns even though the penultimate scene features McCrea picking her up (protesting wildly) and (off-camera) locking her in his car. It squeaked into cinemas pre-Hays, too, so the last couple of scenes in particular are pretty racy and very funny. The two leads play beautifully together and Fay Wray is always good.
  • sludgehound25 June 2003
    Agree with prior comments. Nice period piece that you'll see elements of other ones to come like His Girl Friday. Screenplay got Oscar nom. Fay Wray had RKO's biggest grosser King Kong previous year, 1933. Then made 11 pictures before this one in 1934! Studios really pushed their people. Of course, many were of the "play" type and of short length so the Formula could roll them along. That's both good and bad. This one does hold interest tho. Great faces on the women and high style Art Deco look.
  • Hopkins is Dorothy Hunter, the richest girl in the world who has her secretary front for her in public. Due to her wealth she is positive that she will never fall in love. Once she meets McCrea though, she falls and falls hard.. The only question - can he pass the test? Will he prefer Wray, because he thinks she's the rich one, or will he go for Hopkins, pretending to be the secretary. Charming and fun romantic comedy. Hopkins looks really lovely.
  • Mistaken identity has always been a classic theme of comedy; many comic characters in Shakespeare or Moliere, for example, disguise themselves as somebody else, but the device is even older, dating back at least to the days of the Greek and Roman theatre. The advantage of this device is that it enables the dramatist to make the most of the ensuing confusion for humorous purposes.

    The plot of 'The Richest Girl in the World' is one with which classical dramatists would have felt at home. The central character is Dorothy Hunter, the heiress to a large fortune. (The similarity of surnames suggests that the model for Dorothy may have been the Woolworths heiress Barbara Hutton). She is worried that potential suitors will love her for her money and not for herself. She therefore changes places with her attractive secretary Sylvia. If any man shows an interest in the supposed 'Sylvia' (who is really Dorothy in disguise), she suggests to him that the supposed 'Dorothy' (really Sylvia in disguise) has fallen in love with him and would welcome a proposal of marriage. The real Sylvia is happily married and has no interest in any of Dorothy's suitors; the point of this charade is that if the man shows any interest in the fake 'Dorothy' he has thereby failed the test and proved himself unworthy of the real Dorothy's hand. The film chronicles Dorothy's attempts to play this trick on her latest beau, Tony.

    This plot could have been the basis of an intriguing comedy, but it is not really developed well enough. This is less the fault of the actors than of the script. In this age of the turgid three-hour blockbuster it seems strange to criticise a film for being too short, but an hour and ten minutes were not sufficient to bring out all the comic possibilities of the situation, and the conclusion of the film is both rushed and muddled. (Perhaps the film was originally the B-movie in a double bill with a set, and limited, running-time, which would explain the scriptwriter's haste to get everything tidied up as soon as possible.) Dorothy's elderly guardian, Jonathan, does suggest that she may be guilty of psychological cruelty in pushing her deception of Tony so far, but the film makes no attempt to explore the deeper implications of her behaviour. Her wealth is, after all, an important part of her identity, so by posing as her own secretary she has effectively persuaded Tony to fall in love with her under false pretences. The film, however, prefers to ignore the philosophical implications of this deception.

    Like many comedies of the period, this is a light film, in the sense that it is lighthearted but also in the sense that it is lightweight. Even in the era when it was made, it was probably seen as no more than an amusing trifle. It has not stood the test of time well, and today comes across as trivial and faded. 5/10
  • The Richest Girl in the World in 1934 meant Barbara Hutton. Her exploits made her the Paris Hilton of the day. Did anyone seriously think that by titling the lead character Dorothy Hunter that RKO wasn't trying to cash in on Hutton's reputation?

    Miriam Hopkins as Dorothy Hunter is naturally concerned with both privacy and wanting to know if she would really be marrying someone for love. She's hatched a scheme with her secretary Fay Wray to in public exchange identities. But that may come to an end soon as Fay is looking to marry Reginald Denny.

    But along comes Joel McCrea who's got his own ideas about supporting himself in the true McCrea tradition. Hopkins crushes out on him big time and he falls for her thinking she's the secretary.

    I can't say more, but any movie fan can take this plot from here. Still the leads are at their best and the film is good entertainment.

    But who was RKO kidding?
  • "The Richest Girl in the World" is reclusive Miriam Hopkins (as Dorothy Hunter). She attracts men, but wonders if it is possible to find true love. After breaking off an engagement, Ms. Hopkins meets attractive Joel McCrea (Anthony "Tony" Travers) in her regular guise, pretending to be pretty secretary Fay Wray (as Sylvia). Hopkins uses Ms. Wray to switch roles, so she can play pool rather than attend business meetings. When Mr. McCrea meets Hopkins, he is quite taken, but winds up on a canoe date with Wray, instead. Hopkins and Wray's husband Reginald Denny (Phillip "Phil" Lockwood) knock their boat over. Hopkins decides to test McCrea by encouraging him to pursue "fake" heiress Wray. It sounds silly, but everyone manages to make it mildly engaging. Norman Krasna's script even received an "Oscar" nomination. Mentor Henry Stephenson (as Connors) and maid Beryl Mercer (as Marie) are also good.

    ****** The Richest Girl in the World (9/21/34) William A. Seiter ~ Miriam Hopkins, Joel McCrea, Fay Wray, Reginald Denny
  • MartinHafer21 August 2016
    When a movie stars Joel McCrea, you can pretty much guarantee it will be enjoyable...and so I wasn't surprised that I enjoyed this film. It's cute and enjoyable and Miriam Hopkins is quite nice as well.

    When the film begins, you learn that the heiress Dorothy Hunter is a bit of an enigma. No one knows what she looks like and folks about to meet her are curious what she looks like. However, what they don't realize is that this 'Dorothy Hunter' is a fake...hired by the real one (Hopkins) because she wants to retain her privacy. This has created a problem, however. How will she meet men and how will she handle it when she meets a nice guy? Well, she gets to try this out when Tony (McCrea) enters her life. She CONTINUES to pretend to be someone else and her assistant continues to pretend to be Dorothy. The problem is that Tony finds he's falling for BOTH women!

    This is a sweet film and the stars do a nice job...almost nice enough to give this one an 8. The script isn't easy to believe but the cast do their best to breath life into it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Miriam Hopkins, The Richest Girl in the World, wants to be loved for herself and not her money, so with Joel McCrea as guinea pig, she poses as her own secretary, while her secretary, played by Fay Wray, takes on her role. McCrea is supposed to prove his true love for Hopkins -- in secretary guise, mind you -- by choosing her over what he thinks is Wray's immense fortune, but if he does, he will have a lifetime's supply of really good scotch...

    What starts out as a fairy tale plot soon becomes a decimation of the very notion of secure identity, a hint that there is no such thing as individual personality. What does it mean to be loved for "yourself"? Is "yourself" a form of purity that exists only in relation to something impure, like a rich woman who could turn you into a gigolo? What if the choice is between two poor women? A scene near the end presents an inescapable labyrinth of contradictions that makes you want to tear your hair out.

    SPOILERS.

    McCrea has proposed to Fay Wray, and she has pretended to accept, much to the dismay of Miriam Hopkins who realizes that her chance for true love has flown out the window. The mood is grim as Hopkins and her servants prepare to, essentially, execute McCrea by casting him out of the paradise he thinks he's won. But that same night, McCrea is sitting on the stairs and sees Wray's REAL husband sneak into her bedroom. The next day, in a huff, he breaks off the engagement with her, suggesting that her wealth has made her a perverse tramp, only to be told by Hopkins, desperate to make herself as unattractive as possible and thereby more qualified for "true love" as opposed to mercenary considerations, that she had switched bedrooms and that she was the tramp. Instead of apologizing to Wray, as any normal man would do, McCrea grabs Hopkins and carries her bodily out of the house to the altar!

    Now, why and how could this happen? Why doesn't McCrea, hearing that Fay Wray was faithful, stick with her, since he thinks she's rich? The movie suggests that Hopkins's supposed promiscuity has inflamed McCrea's lust to the point where he no longer cares about money, and must have her sexually for himself, even if this means losing his potential fortune. But on top of this Freudian ploy, there's a much deeper, more haunting suggestion. McCrea, the film seems to wink at us, has figured out the trick that's been played on him. And he is then returning the favor and playing another trick by pretending to be inflamed by Hopkins, because he knows that will flatter her ego and her sense of truth about herself, even though his eye is firmly on the prize -- and I mean the one that's NOT between her legs. The final shot of the movie shows the happy couple on board of a boat, both of them still pretending not to know the other's secret, while an anonymous man, some kind of spy -- but on whose team? -- affixes a mustache.

    The truly sinister aspect of this movie is that everyone gets exactly what they want. Far from a slapped-on happy ending, the ending of this movie suggests that all happiness is likewise compromised, artificial, but then again, Hopkins was on the verge of spinsterhood... Isn't a fiction, any fiction, better than that?
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I saw this short film, about 1 hour and 10 minutes, and saw the resemblance to the richest woman in the world...Miss Hutton. Miss Hopkins was a good actress, but not very attractive. I would put her in the same category of Glen Close today. Fay Wray, her costar was far prettier.., but a featured player. The curiousity of Joel McCreas character of wheather he would pick Miss Hopkins or Miss Wray, kept me interested, until towards the end, which was unplausable. SPOILER:



    Now it may be that the film was badly edited at that time, but it was obvious to me, when they came to climax scene. Joel had just said good night to Fay at her room. Then they show Joel going over to Miriams room, which was just a few steps away and he knocks on her door wanting to talk to her. She responds that she was too tired and said good night. Disappointed, he walks over to the steps leading downstairs and sits there pondering, until he see's Fay's husband going directly into her room. Obviously, Joel's upset. The next morning at breakfast he blasts all of them, and punches Fay's husband on the jaw. Just then,Miriam 'confess's' to Joel, that it was her in that room where Fay was suppose to have been. Now, how can that be possible, unless the rooms are connected in such a way, that we couldn't see. That ruined it for me.
  • Richest Girl in the World, The (1934)

    ** (out of 4)

    Miriam Hopkins plays Dorothy Hunter, the richest girl in the world who also happens to be a recluse. Mrs. Hunter always sends her secretary (Fay Wray) out to pretend to be here. One day at a party Hunter, pretending to be the secretary, meets a man (Joel McCrea) who claims that he could fall in love with a rich woman even if she didn't have money. This RKO comedy was certainly inspired by Barbara Hutton, who at the time really was the richest girl in the world. The built up love story was probably the creation of someone in the RKO front office but the end results are fairly disappointing considering the cast involved. The story itself is the biggest problem as is goes from A to B to C without anything new being done and by the time the film is over you can't help but feel as if you've witness nothing but one cliché after another. The highlight of the film would be a scene where McCrea and Wray are out in a canoe when a jealous Hopkins comes up in a large part to tip them over. This sequence was a very funny one but there aren't too many laughs after it. McCrea and Hopkins made enough films together to be charming and they do that here. The two of them bring their characters to life even though the screenplay doesn't offer them much. Wray is also pretty good in her role but again, the screenplay doesn't give you anything. In the end this is a completely forgettable movie that most people will overlook so unless you're a fan of the stars then it's best to just keep this one in the vault.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I'd like to recommend this because I like the cast and director but I found it rather dull. It's not quite funny enough to be a comedy and the romance is improbable and unengaging.

    Miriam Hopkins is the richest girl in the world and finds it hard to attract men, because the men don't want to be seen as opportunists. (That proposition is funnier than any of the gags in the movie.) So she switches places with her secretary, the good-natured Fay Wray.

    In this guise, she meets Joel McRea, an honest, ordinary sort of bloke. One of Hopkins' staff looks into his background. Not a great deal of money, but the scion of an old Boston family, a broker on Wall Street or something, and a graduate degree from Yale. "About average," says Hopkins' adviser, the avuncular Henry Stephenson, in all seriousness. That's funnier than any of the gags too.

    Hopkins decides to put McRea to the test by pushing him in the direction of Fay Wray, who McRea still believes to be the richest girl in the world. Will McRea give up Hopkins (who is REALLY the richest girl in the world) for Fay Wray (who is only PRETENDING to be the richest girl in the world but is already married to King Kong)? Are you kidding? Actually, I would have given up the smitten Miriam Hopkins for Fay Wray in an instant. Wray is better looking, unwittingly sexy, and even as a secretary, she still makes a lot more money than I do. If Fay Wray didn't swoon once within my cloud of pheromones, if she didn't fall for me immediately, I'd have beaten her into it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Whether or not money can buy happiness (or just rents it) is a question still being pondered millenniums after the appearance of the first gold diggers. Today, having tons of money may get your name in the paper or most likely just pay for a good therapist, but in the depression, if you were lucky enough not to have lost your shirt or skirt in the stock market, you had to wonder if the broke heir or heiress or the dashing young man or sexy chorus girl was after you or your bank roll. Real life heiresses Barbara Hutton and Doris Duke had their prestigious but sometimes lonely lives documented in T.V. movies, even appearing together as pals in the 2001 Doris Duke bio, "Too Rich".

    Their fictional depression era movie counterpart is introduced as the orphaned daughter of wealthy parents who went down on the Titanic, and to avoid unwanted publicity, she has lived in seclusion all her life. The audience learns early on in this light screwball comedy with dramatic moments that the real heiress (Miriam Hopkins) has switched places with her secretary (Fay Wray) in the hopes of finding a husband who loves her, not her status or bank account. She's actually a very lovely young lady, fun and caring, yet definitely insecure over her ability to attract a man. Along comes handsome Joel McCrea who makes a bee-line for Wray but also enjoys spending time with Hopkins whom he considers a "buddy". Wray goes along for the prank, yet unlike in the badly remade "Bride By Mistake", is always prepared to relinquish her status should the plan backfire.

    A well-written and complex comedy, this is a film without a real complete conclusion, but that gives the audience the opportunity to determine how they would like the revelation of the truth to come out. Hopkins and McCrea share a nice chemistry and prove that true love does usually start off with the two being more pals than lovers. Wray's character is never really developed beyond just being an agreeable part of the scheme, but Henry Stephenson is excellent as Hopkins' adviser. Droll Reginald Denny and loyal Beryl Mercer round out the supporting cast for a comedy that doesn't answer all the questions about what it takes to be a happy rich person, but then that answer needs to come from the person whose life desire it is to be wealthy.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Though the Academy presented an Oscar nomination for the screenplay of this movie, the story does not make a lot of sense. In order to find a man who loves her for herself instead of her money, Dorothy Hunter (Miriam Hopkins) switches identities with her secretary. Yet when Tony Travers (Joel McCrea) persists in pursuing the "false" Dorothy Hunter (Fay Wray), the real Dorothy continues to want Tony for herself.

    Right up to the end, when Tony has finally popped the question to the false Dorothy, the real Dorothy continues to love him. It is only a last-minute switcheroo that causes Tony to end up married to the real Dorothy--and even then she is still disguised as the secretary! Why Tony persists in chasing after the woman whom he thinks is the richest girl in the world is a mystery. Does he really love her? No sign that he does. Does he want her just for her money? This seems to be the case, though even that is never made clear in the movie.

    The situation is not helped by the performance of Joel McCrea. In some films, such as Preston Sturges' "Sullivan's Travels" and "Palm Beach Story," McCrea's deadpan demeanor actually plays into the humor of the situation, particularly when he plays opposite a talented co-star and comically gifted supporting cast. But in this movie Joel McCray borders on the inert. He comes across as a mere hunk, dense and single-minded in his pursuit of the false Dorothy.