Wise Girl (1937)

Approved   |    |  Comedy

Wise Girl (1937) Poster

Snooty heiress decides to track down her dead sister's kids, who are living a Bohemian life with their uncle in Greenwich Village. Once she finds them, she discovers that the Bohemian life ... See full summary »

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14 August 2010 | WeatherViolet
| Susan Fletcher Meets John O'Halloran and Their Nieces, and....
Miriam Hopkins shines as Susan "Susie" Fletcher, the ever-resourceful, vivacious leading lady to whom this title alludes, and Leigh Jason directs this delightful Allan Scott - Charles Norman penned Comedy from RKO-Radio Pictures, which features Marianna Strelby and Betty Philson, each in her only screen appearance, as the children quickly becoming embroidered in a bitter custody batter between their wealthy maternal grandfather, Mr. Simon Fletcher (Henry Stephenson), and their free-spirited, impoverished Bohemian paternal uncle, John O'Halloran (Ray Milland).

By morning light, Susan Fletcher returns in brilliant evening gown to her wealthy father's estate, in Fletcherville, New York, several miles north of Manhattan, from whence her Russian Prince trio of escorts, Prince Michael (Ivan Lebedeff), Prince Ivan (Rafael Storm) and Prince Leopold (Gregory Gaye), transport her, to discover 1st Detective (Richard Lane) and 2nd Detective's (Tom Kennedy) meeting Simon Fletcher, to announce that they've discovered his granddaughters abiding in Greenwich Village, after returning from Europe with their guardian uncle, John O'Halloran, who works three jobs to support them.

But when Simon tells Susan that he cannot legally take custody of his late daughter's children because her late husband has entrusted their care to his brother, for as long as John can provide for them, Susan realizes an idea without a workable plan, to move into Greenwich Village under the guise of a poor but friendly stranger, to see what she can do to help her nieces.

(It may seem uncanny that the brother-in-law wouldn't know the sister-in-law, nor the nieces their aunt nor grandfather, but Miriam Hopkins and company make this plot to work very well because who would know what to do next in a situation as difficult as this and still maintain light-hearted manners?)

Anyway, Susan packs an overnight bag, and conceals nearly $100 in cash, but making believe that she's broke and malnourished, upon arriving in Manhattan, and into the pawn shoppe of Dermot O'Neil (Alec Craig), at which John O'Halloran bargains with Flute Seller (D'Arcy Corrigan), whom Susan champions to no avail.

When Susan requests of Dermot free accommodations, she finally meets nieces Katie O'Halloran (Marianna Strelby) and Joan O'Halloran (Betty Philson), who suggest that she stay in the laundry room, offering a dough-nut, before John's disapproval of her smart attire and carefree attitude.

John's friends, Karl Stevens (Walter Abel), a drunken artist once married to an heiress whom Susan knows, and Mike Malloy (Guinn "Big Boy" Williams), a fledgling boxer, befriend "Susie" after George (Jean De Briac) returns and freely enters her quarters while she bathes. Not taking lightly to this lack of privacy, Susan confronts John from within the laundry tubs, as he plasters the ceiling above her entranceway.

But when John later discovers the money in Susie's purse, John suspects Susie of impersonating a poor person, but Susie finds out about it after hearing Katie and Joan's gossiping in French, a language which Susan understands and clears the mistrust among them.

In addition to his position at Dermot O'Neil's, John paints signs for a department store, and seconds Mike Malloy as boxing manager. Dermot tells Susie that he cannot fire John from the pawn shoppe because John owes him too much back rent, so she inadvertently gets him fired from the department store, where she takes a job as an actress in the store window, as Actor in Department Store Window (Jack Rice) makes a play for her, and John sticks up in her defense, causing Jake Kelly, Department Store Bouncer (Frank Moran) to end his employ.

At her Italian restaurant, Mama Guido (Mathilde Comont) hires John to paint a wall mural and Susie to add atmosphere, but when the three Russian Princes arrive, Susan must quickly think of a plan to send them off before they recognize her, once again, costing John his commission.

In the boxing ring, Mike's Fight Opponent (Frank Hagney) begins to get the better of Mike Malloy, and the Fight Referee (Eddie Gribbon) names the winner of the match, but this, neither, helps John O'Halloran and his financial situation.

Now, losing jobs left and right, Susie suggests that John enter a painting contest because of his talent for fine arts, but John tosses a knife at the want ads, to select a situation as a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman, during which time he demonstrates for "Fat Mother with Baby Wilbur" (Grace Hayle) until Baby Wilbur ends up missing somewhere in the apartment.

By now, Mr. Simon Fletcher has John O'Halloran right where he wants him, and arranges for a custody hearing to claim Katie and Joan. Susan, beginning to change her tune about Katie and Joan's situation, pleads with Simon to give Susan a little more time to work things through, but the ball is set into motion for John, Katie and Joan to discover Susie's true identity.

Mrs. Bell-Rivington (Margaret Dumont) testifies before Chief Judge at Custody Hearing (George Irving) of the improper conditions which John O'Halloran provides for the children, with Simon Fletcher and company on one side, and John O'Halloran and friends on the other. When Joan is asked to testify, Dr. Barry, Court Psychiatrist (Maurice Cass) claims that the children remain healthy in John's unconventional environment.

So, it is up to Susan Fletcher to turn the tables one way or the other once she decides how the better interests of each party involved ought to be served.

But when her plan to inspire John to paint for the magazine art contest seems to backfire, Susan enlists the assistance of Motorcycle Cop #1 (Edgar Dearing) and Motorcycle Cop #2 (Eddie Dunn) "to do a little murder," to frame someone to serve jail time.

Russell Hicks has a role as David Larrimore, the magazine editor, who may be able to provide a helpful solution to the situation at hand, with a little edging from that "Wise Girl" herself, Susan Fletcher.

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