Smarty (1934)

Passed   |    |  Comedy, Romance


Smarty (1934) Poster

Vicki Wallace (Joan Blondell) takes great pleasure in teasing her husband,Tony Wallace (Warren William), who takes no pleasure at all in being teased and it isn't long before he ups and ... See full summary »


5.9/10
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18 March 2011 | skysaxon
Slight tale of masochistic woman in control
At one point in this movie, Joan Blondell's character confides to a friend thoughts about her husband striking her, "That's just it. If he really loved me, he'd a hit me long ago." Very much a product of its time, this pre-Hays code tale reflects a morality that seems cruel and sexist now. But the main character revels in her time; cracking double entendres and frank admissions of how she likes to be physically abused yet control the men who love her.

Joan Blondell, infamous for her proclivity for shedding her clothes at parties, seems right at home in this role. Her risqué comments and coy delivery fit neatly within the framework of her character.

You could not make this movie today. Even the thought of a woman inviting physical abuse upon herself is taboo. But not in "Smarty". This brisk, if somewhat slight, film bathes in its taboo-breaking with a kind of so what bravado. The characters are friendly, even affectionate, with each other despite the blows, both physical and emotional. The breezy repartee ignores the reality of the situations, instead playing light thanks to a humorous script and crisp performances.

Yes, "Smarty" is a look back at a time before PC was de riguer and people like Will H. Hays, for better or worse, ruled cinema. If you can get past the glossing over of physical violence, you may just be lured into the lead character's web. Joan Blondell brings it. Watching her performance in this movie, I don't know why she wasn't a bigger star.

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