Monday, September 27, 2021

Blondie of the Follies

Another of the movies that I've had sitting on my DVR for quite a few months is Blondie of the Follies. Recently, I finally got around to watching it in order to clear up some space on my DVR.

Marion Davies plays Blondie McClune, who lives in a tenement apartment together with her parents (James Gleason and Sarah Padden) and siblings. Money is always tight since there's a depression on, and not even enough money to buy Blondie that new dress she wants. Also living in the building is Blondie's best friend Lottie Callahan (Billie Dove).

The two want to get into a big Broadway show, which Lottie eventually does, taking on the stage name Lurline and getting noticed by one of those rich guys who picked up chorines in movies of the early 1930s, one Larry Belmont (Robert Montgomery). Lottie meets Blondie and invites her over now that Lottie is living in a swanky apartment on Park Avenue.

This is where Larry meets Blondie, and immediately takes a liking to her. Blondie could consider any boyfriend of Lottie's a platonic friend, but she would never dream of trying to take Lottie's boyfriend away from her. Lottie, understandably, doesn't see things that way, and it's going to drive a huge wedge into the friendship, even after Blondie too gets a job in the Follies, which pisses her dad off since he doesn't think that's appropriate for a good woman.

Another rich guy, Murcheson (Douglass Dumbrille) is having a party on his yacht, and since Larry and Lottie are guests, Lottie brings Blondie along, which bugs Larry enough to drive a wedge between him and Lottie. Larry is freer to pursue Blondie, but she's still loyal enough to Lottie that she wouldn't dream of trying to take Larry away from Lottie.

Still to come are Blondie's tragic reunion with her father, as well as Lottie getting so mad at Blondie that she tries to ruin Blondie's big number, also with tragic results. But it's that latter tragedy that might just bring BLondie and Larry together. After all, Davies and Montgomery get top billing, a sure sign that they should be together.

The box guide referred to this as a comedy, although it really isn't. The one big comic scene comes when Jimmy Durante finally shows up, basically playing a variation of himself. He shows up at a party Blondie is throwing, and together the two do a spoof of Grand Hotel, with Durante taking the part of John Barrymore (to be fair, Durante does have a rather notable profile himself) and Davies doing Greta Garbo. It's fun comic relief that works.

The rest of the movie doesn't work quite as well, but it's not exactly a bad movie. It's more one of those dated early 1930s movies that would be a bit difficult for people not fans of older movies to get into. Although Davies and Montgomery both do an adequate enough job, they were both better in other things. Still, for anybody whose opinion of Davies is based on Orson Welles' reference to her in Citizen Kane, even Blondie of the Follies should dispel that notion.

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