Saturday, June 15, 2013

Blondie of the Follies (1932)

In the early 1900s every young girl with aspirations of being an actress wanted to be in the Ziegfeld Follies. Norma Shearer tried to get into the Follies after WWI. She interviewed for the show along with a letter of introduction. Florenz Ziegfeld himself took a look at her at their first meeting and was not present when they were supposed to meet again. When he called her back he told that he had to go out of town that day of their second meeting. He also told her that she would never make in show business. Shearer was too stocky and not pretty enough.  Marion Davies (and one of Norma Shearer’s rivals at MGM) star of Blondie of the Follies was lucky enough to have made real Follies before she became a screen actress.
            Blondie McClune (Davies) lives in a tenement in New York City at the beginning of the 1900s. She and her friend Lottie have been friends since they were young. Blondie is content working and helping her family. Lottie is not content with the family she comes from and where she lives. One day Lottie introduces Blondie to some gentlemen she met the night before. One of the men gets fresh with Blondie and she slaps the guy in the face. Lottie is furious at her for what she did and tells her off. Blondie in return gets snarky and Lottie winds up smacking her. The two friends get into a brawl in the middle of the hallway in their apartment.
            Lottie decides to leave her old life behind and leaves to work on the stage. Blondie tells her friend she does not think this job is a good idea. Eventually Lottie changes her name and becomes a big success. Lottie goes to visit her family. Blondie gets a ride back with her friend to a beautiful spacious apartment. While Lottie is taking a bath, Blondie walks around the apartment in her friend’s pearls and furs. A young man named Larry (Robert Montgomery) walks in on her fun.
            As Blondie goes to leave Lottie gives her a jacket and a hat since she whisked Blondie away in such a hurry. Larry wants Blondie to come out with them but a jealous Lottie does not want her friend to come along. Blondie tries to leave but Larry stops her and he takes her to the Follies. Lottie hears some of the girls talking about Larry and Blondie who are sitting together in the balcony. Blondie enjoys the show. She asks Larry if he can put her in a show. He manages to get her a try out. She has a great time backstage and at the show, she is like a little kid. Larry wants to go out to a nightclub. Lottie refuses to go if Blondie goes with them. Instead Larry takes Blondie to a speakeasy. They dance and drink the night away together. Lottie shows up at the speakeasy at the exact moment Larry kisses Blondie. In a jealous fit she runs out.
            Larry brings Blondie home a little drunk since she was not used to drinking. Her father was waiting up all night for and is furious. He think she did something wrong with Larry he tells her to get out if she speaks to Larry again. Blondie leaves her home and stays at Lottie’s. Her sister tells the father not to be so old fashioned. Feeling bad he goes to see Blondie to apologize and to tell her he does not mind if she goes into the Follies.
            Lottie has enough of seeing Larry, the man she is in love with, going around with Blondie. She tells her friend her feelings for Larry. Blondie agrees not to go around with Larry. Lottie takes Blondie to a party of a yacht. Larry is furious with Lottie for bringing Blondie with her. He thinks Blondie is sweet and respectable she should not be around the rest of the guests. He decides to break things off with Lottie. Lottie asks Blondie if she heard things were off between her and Larry would she go out with Larry. Blondie hesitates then says yes. Lottie in a rage grabs Blondie and they both go overboard into the water.
            Blondie becomes a success in the Follies. She has not spoken to Lottie or Larry in three months. Blondie tries to bring Lottie and Larry back together. Larry brings up the point that he and Lottie never really loved each other. Even with this Blondie keeps her promise not to see Larry.
            Before a performance one night Lottie goes to the speakeasy and has a few drinks. She is part of a number with Blondie that has the girls hold hands and go around on stage as if they were a whip. During the performance Lottie lets go of Blondie’s hand and Blondie falls off the stage. Everyone thinks that the reason Lottie let go was because she was at the speakeasy before the performance. Blondie gives up everything and goes home. Her leg has been broken to the point where it cannot be easily fixed. Larry come by with a doctor that can help fix her leg and to tell Blondie he wants to marry her.
            Marion Davies was so adorable and perfect as Blondie. From the moment she comes on screen she was fantastic. I think her performance keeps this backstage drama from getting boring. There was a scene where Davies and Jimmy Durante do an impression of John Barrymore and Greta Garbo from Grand Hotel.  It was so hilarious. Davies was spot on in her impression. Robert Montgomery I am convinced he never gave a bad performance during his career. He was fantastic as always.

            Blondie of the Follies is an enjoyable film. I liked how the main character never changed who she really way. She was starry eyed and sweet. The only complaint I have about the film is how annoying the character of Lottie was. She was so jealous and nasty towards someone who used to be her best friend. Blondie of the Follies has a very good story and a very good cast.