Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lovin' the Ladies

TCM is showing the pre-Code Lovin' the Ladies tomorrow morning at 6:30 AM. It's creaky, but there's some stuff that's worth watching just for the dated kicks.

George and Jimmy (played by Selmer Jackson and Allen Kearns, repsectively), are a pair of young men in the idle rich class, wearing tuxedos and playing billiards, and not seeming to do anything productive. They decide to wile away their time coming up with social fantasizing and making wagers on it, asking hypotheticals like, "Can any two people be made to fall in love with each other, given the right circumstances?" The two guys have a chance to test this wager when the electrician comes in to fix some of their lights. Peter, the electrician, is played by Richard Dix. And our two rich guys think that taking such a working-class man and trying to get him to get a snooty society girl (Renee Macready). Peter isn't so dumb: he only agrees to take part in the wager for a cool $2500. The thing is, he's oing to have to dress up like those rich people he despises and pretend to be one of them while pursuing the girl.

What happens next is one of those drawing-room comedies that aren't my favorite genre, but isn't terrible here. Peter actually seems to know too much to be just an electrician, and would frankly rather have a friendship with the butler (who also seems strangely overqualified). But all the rich girls begin to fall in love with him. With one exception, which is unsurprisingly the one girl he's supposed to get to propose to him. She'd rather be with the butler or something.

As I said at the beginning, it's creaky, and it probably has no resemblance to any reality, even the sort of reality that the "smart set" of rich playboys knew back in 1930. But it's so warped that it's interesting at times, and there are a few references to things which are no longer now what they were back in 1930. The most startling example of this is when the two playboys are introducing the wager to Peter the electrician. They want to pay him $1000 (he negotiates up to the $2500 mentioned earlier) to get him to "make love to" the girl. In the context of the movie, it clearly doesn't mean sex, but something like seducing in a G-rated way. I've never been able to figure out whether this was a deliberate double entendre.

Lovin' the Ladies is not available on DVD, not even from the Warner Archive Collection.

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