12 March 2020 | MartinHafer
Polly...the girl who works!
In the late 1930s and into the 1940s, two amazingly talented singers were all the rage in films. The most famous of them today was Judy Garland, though for a while Deanna Durbin was a bigger draw and saved Universal Studios from financial ruin (as did Abbott & Costello). Just a bit after their success, Gloria Jean arrived in Hollywood and like these other two, possessed an amazing voice for a young girl. But, unlike the other two, her fame was short-lived and today she's hardly remembered. This is no slam against her...she just didn't catch on with audiences like the other two...and the studio already had Miss Durbin under contract.
"An Old-Fashioned Girl" is one of Gloria Jean's outings at the tail end of her movie career. Here Gloria is an adult and it's nice to see her in such a role.
The story is set in 1870 and Polly (Gloria Jean) comes from an impoverished middle-class family. So she did what any sane person would do...she went to work. However, this was something women from her class just didn't do...and her providing music lessons was quite a shock to others. As for the folks around her, they mostly seemed like dull idlers....folks you wouldn't want to know or with which you'd like to be associated! And, their reaction to her and romance are the main themes of this movie.
I liked this film better than the juvenile roles Jean played in the early 40s. It seemed less dependent on her singing and more on acting...a major plus. An enjoyable film overall and worth your time.
By the way, if you watch the film, look for a young Elinor Donahue as well as Irene Ryan....old TV standbys of the 50s-70s. Ryan, by the way, overacts terribly a few times.