Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Make Way for a Lady

Anne Shirley was one of the honorees in last August's Summer Under the Stars. I finally got around to watching one of the movies that I recorded during the salute, Make Way for a Lady, available on DVD courtesy of the Warner Archive.

Shirley plays Jane Drew, high school-aged daughter of Chris (Herbert Marshall), a widowed publisher living in one of those smallish towns an hour or so away from New York that seemed to be the sort of setting common for 1930s movies. Jane has a guy who might become her boyfriend in the form of Billy Hopkins (Frank Coghlan Jr.), while Dad doesn't seem to have a woman in his life.

But then there's Valerie Broughton (Margot Grahame). She wrote a book that Mr. Drew's company published, and she's decided to take a house down the street from the Drews in order to work on her new book. She's also given Mr. Drew a first edition of her current best seller, with an inscription to him.

Jane reads the inscription and gets it in her head that Valerie wrote her book about her Dad, and that the two might be in love. So she's going to work on the two of them and try to get them together because Dad could use a new wife.

Unfortunately, Jane doesn't know that Valerie's book is really about another man and that Valerie loves that man. Also, Dad doesn't love Valerie, but Jane's teacher Miss Emerson (Gertrude Michael). Worse, Jane finds this out, and decides to tell Emerson that she wouldn't make a suitable stepmother because Dad's got another woman in mind!

I've always found that RKO's B movies are not as high-quality for me as Warner Bros.' B movies, which I generally consider the best of them. While Make Way for a Lady certainly isn't bad, even as a B movie it could have been better. Anne Shirley is asked to be too irritating here, and the plot is resolved much too quickly.

Make Way for a Lady is another of those movies that would have been good on those old four-movie sets that TCM and Warner Home Video used to put out, rather than on a standalone DVD.

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