Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Small Town Girl (1936)


“Really love him. Will ya?”

            Ever feel like your life was stuck in a rut and all you wanted to do was escape and start a new life? For the past few years I have definitely had the feeling my life has been stuck like every time I try to move forward I get pushed back further. My life in very routine which sometimes is good because I have ADD and anxiety but sometimes the routine gets old. I long to travel and dream of moving somewhere on my own. Sometimes I even dream of finding a nice guy that can take me away from everything… but let’s not spread that dream of mine around I am not that kind of a girl to talk about romantic feelings. I also have a feeling that I was meant to be more than I am. Maybe everyone has those feelings but lately those feelings have been very strong. The 1936 film Small Town Girl was perfect for me to watch with a main character who wanted more out of life.
            Every year thousands of people come driving through Kay Brannan’s (Janet Gaynor) hometown for the Harvard vs. Yale football game. She stands outside her family’s store watching all the cars drive by and even lets some boys sweet talk her as they wait in heavy traffic. Kay walks back to the store after walking down the street. She is frustrated with her life she feels there is something more and that she is just stuck. She has a boyfriend named Elmer (James Stewart) who is predictable in every way. Kay lives at home with her parents and her sister and brother-in-law. Every night they have the same conversations at dinner and even the same foods depending on the day of the week.
            That night Kay has enough of her family and of Elmer and goes for a walk. She is almost hit by a car as she crosses the street. The car is driven by a young man named Bob Dakin (Robert Taylor). He stops the car and apologizes. He sees Kay is pretty and starts flirting with her. He is trying to get to a tavern and asks Kay for directions but he does not pay attention he just stares at her. Bob has Kay go with him to the tavern. She does not want to go in an first but he begs her to come in and have some fun.
            After their partying Bob wants to take Kay down to Boston even though he is ridiculously drunk. He gets lost in a town. He comes up with the idea to find the Justice of the Peace to ask for directions. Kay is worried about her family not knowing where she is and wants to go home. Bob comes up with the idea that they should get married when they go see the Justice of the Peace. Kay knows she should not take advantage of Bob in his drunken state but she sees their marriage as her way of getting out of her small town life.
            Back on the road, Bob falls asleep at the wheel and Kay steers the car just in time to keep it from crashing. Both of them fall asleep until the morning. When Bob wakes up he at first does not remember what has happened so Kay helps jog his memory. He looks down at his pocket in his coat and sees the marriage certificate. Bob tells her he has a lawyer friend that can keep the marriage out of the papers but she reminds him that the night before the Justice of the Peace recognized Bob’s name and called the papers.
            Bob brings Kay to his parents’ home in Boston. The father asks if Kay is a friend of
Priscilla, Bob’s fiancé. Bob and Priscilla were supposed to be married in two weeks. Bob walks out of the room and Kay breaks down and tells the parents that they were married the night before. Bob asks his father if he can the whole matter and have the marriage annulled. The father says he has fixed many his problems in the past this time he is not taking any action because it would look like exactly what happened. Bob tells Kay that they will stay married for six months then get divorced. Kay says she will do that because she likes his parents. The press comes to the house. He tells the reporters that he has known Kay for months and that Priscilla was the one who broke their engagement.
            To keep up appearances Bob and Kay go on a honeymoon on his family’s yacht. Priscilla comes to see them off only to take a look at Kay and see that she is not a threat to her and Bob getting back together. Kay is a little hurt because she does really like Bob. The unhappy couple play nice with each other in front of the crew but once the crew are gone they are cold as ice to each other. One night the rough ocean gets the best of Kay and she goes to bed sick as can be. Bob is a doctor and tells her she will feel better if she goes out on deck to get some fresh air. Kay does not want to listen to him so instead she suffers in bed. Bob has enough of her complaining, grabs Kay, and carries her outside. The next day Bob comes down with a cold. Kay tries to help him even though he does not want her help. Kay makes a remedy of hot water and lemons. Bob reluctantly drinks her remedy since he is too sick not to. As she takes care of him Bob tells Kay that he is tired of being  grouch and from then on they are nicer to each other.
            Back in Boston, Bob is always away at the clinic at the hospital. Kay really loves Bob and is upset that he is always away and always talking about Priscilla. They go to a party at the hospital one night. The head doctor of the clinic is there. The doctor is not very nice to Bob to begin with and to make matters worse he sees Bob talking to Priscilla all night instead of being with his wife. That night Bob tells Kay that he is going down to the clinic when he is really going to Priscilla’s. A few hours later the clinic calls looking for Bob. One of his patients, a little boy with a metal plate in his head, is in trouble and needs to be operated on right away. Kay calls at Priscilla’s. The woman just tells Kay that Bob cannot go to the clinic and that she should make an excuse for him. Kay has come to know Bob’s patient and knows the boy would be very let down if Bob was not there for him. She goes to Priscilla’s apartment and drags her husband to the clinic. Bob performs some of the surgery but feels like he does not have what it takes right then and there to complete it.
            In the morning Kay goes to Bob’s father and tells him that she is going back home. She admits it is because Bob is still in love with Priscilla and she cannot compete with that love. The father lets Kay know that he and the mother wished it would have worked out between her and their son. He also tells her that if she ever needs anything to come to them since she has become like a daughter to them.
            Kay goes home and realizes her family is not as bad as she thought they were. They still have the same conversations and still talk the same way and live the same way but she knows how to deal with it. Kay gets the paper for her father and sees headlines on the front page about Bob goes to Reno to get a divorce. She goes out for a walk and crossing the street she is almost hit by a car. It is the same and the same driver. Only this time he could not seem to find his way to Reno.
            Small Town Girl started off well and then just went in a completely different direction. What happened was the character of Bob Dakin became a complete jerk. He was so nasty to Kay. The ending kind of did not make sense to me because the whole time Bob acted like he did not love Kay and then right at the end he comes in like a knight in shining armor wanting her back. I guess you could say he was mean to her because he did not want to fall in love with her but you would never guess he was. Robert Taylor and Janet Gaynor were adorable together. I cannot never get enough of Gaynor in her films she was so adorable. Small Town Girl started off great, as I mentioned. It was as if I was seeing my dream being played out on the screen. I wished it had stayed that way instead it turned into a kind of moral lesson for women of 1936 to not dream so big and to not take advantage of drunken men and marry them or you will have a miserable life. Watch Small Town Girl only if you are a fan of either Janet Gaynor or Robert Taylor.