Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Richest Girl in the World (1934)

As a girl I sometimes wonder, let me not kid myself I fantasize, what would happen if I was ever met/was attracted to a man with a lot of money and would I be attracted to him as a person or just because he has money. I am a pretty tough chick when it comes to liking people if a rich guy is going to be a dick with no personality then there is no way I could ever be attracted to that guy no matter how loaded they are. I would rather be married to a nice guy who is not loaded than a guy who is rich but is a dick. In the 1934 RKO film The Richest Girl in the World the richest girl has trouble finding someone who likes her just for who she is or if they like her because of her money.
            Dorothy Hunter (Miriam Hopkins) was two years old when her parents died in 1912 on the Titanic and leaving her their fortune. She is raised by a guardian named John Connors. In those twenty-four years Dorothy has never really been seen. She plays a clever game, instead of she herself going out into the public she sends her secretary Sylvia Lockwood (Fay Wray) to impersonate her and do her public business and in turn she often acts as Sylvia when. The act is a test for if anyone falls for Sylvia playing Dorothy than the real Dorothy knows that the man is only after the money not true love. Sylvia is beginning to get tired of the routine mostly because she is married and her husband wants to move with her back to England.
            Dorothy is engaged to be married but her fiancé breaks off the marriage because he does not want to be known simply as the richest girl in the world’s husband he feels he will never be happy. Dorothy says she is not the romantic type and really does not seem to be too bothered by the break up but that night as Sylvia and her husband Phil (Reginald Denny)dancing and becomes upset and a bit jealous. Dorothy’s engagement party is set for the next day but Connors decides to hold it anyway. At the party Sylvia acts as Dorothy and vice versa. Dorothy as Sylvia meets a very handsome man named Tony Travers (Joel McCrea). She walks away for a moment and he is on a canoe with Sylvia. Dorothy gets upset and goes out on a powerboat with Phil. The powerboat makes enough of a wave to knock the canoe down which was the plan. Dorothy has Phil “rescue” Sylvia (he says that Sylvia was a medal winner in swimming and she winds up saving him) so that Tony cannot get close to her.
            The plan works. After Tony changes into a robe Dorothy as Sylvia goes to talk to him. Tony bluntly says that he would marry for money but also that Sylvia as Dorothy was a nice girl. They share a few drinks and come to like each other.
            The next day Connors has Tony looked into and he checks out well coming from a nice Boston family. Sylvia thinks Tony is the one for Dorothy she likes him too. Dorothy has another plan: she wants to try to push Tony into asking Sylvia as her to see if he will fall in love with her for money or because she is nice. Well Tony really falls for Dorothy as Sylvia the secretary. He accepts an invitation to Dorothy’s house in the Adirondacks for the weekend. Tony is the first to arrive with Connors calling to say that they are fifty miles away and stuck because of the storm but they are really still at the house. Dorothy as Sylvia arrives at the house later on. The two are all alone. They have a very nice scene in front of the fire on the couch where he tells her a sweet story. Tony confesses his love for her but Dorothy tells her he would be much happier with Sylvia as Dorothy. She feels terrible that he is in love with the secretary not the real Dorothy.
            When everyone arrives the next day Sylvia is so awkward around Tony since she is already married and feels bad that Phil is around to see them together. That night Tony proposes to Sylvia as Dorothy even though they have nothing in common. After Sylvia goes into her room Tony is sitting on the steps when he sees Phil going into her room. In the morning he is furious with Sylvia as Dorothy and breaks things off. Dorothy as Sylvia saves the day by saying Phil came into the room to see her instead. Poor Phil when he comes to the table all happy not knowing at all what is going on gets punched by Tony pretty hard. Tony tells Sylvia as Dorothy that she should fire Dorothy as Sylvia but then carries Dorothy off.
            Connors finds out that Dorothy and Tony are on a ship headed to France and were married before they got on the ship. Only Dorothy married under Sylvia’s name.
            The plot is a little complicated to explain in the written sense so I hope I did not blow your mind or completely confuse you. Identity plots are complicated for me to explain sometimes.
            The cast is perfect. Miriam Hopkins is a good actress but I find her odd when it comes to chemistry with her male costars. I have seen a few of Hopkins’s other films and she was so good as an actress and just so different to me it seems like she dominated over her male leads that made her not able to have chemistry with them. I do not know it could be just me with this but that is how I feel about her. Joel McCrea oozes chemistry no matter who his leading lady is but in this film the other half of that chemistry was not there. He was fantastic as the poor average Joe caught in Dorothy’s game. Fay Wray is a very good actress and just in her small scenes she was fabulous. She and Reginald Denny as Phil were adorable together, now they had great chemistry. You could believe they were husband and wife and loved each other especially in the scene where they dance on the porch when Dorothy gets upset watching them. Wray cracked me up when Tony was asking her what she wanted to do when they were at the house in the Adirondacks. She was so awkward because she did not know what to do since she was not herself attracted to him and she was already married.
            The Richest Girl in the World is a cute film but it falls flat towards the end. There is a lot that is left unexplained and it does not go through the philosophical nor psychological aspects of the situation. The deception is completely ignored so in the end instead of marrying just for love Tony winds up marrying money as well. The problem is with the script. It has its moments but it is just too light and although I love the running time at an hour and ten minutes I would have liked to have seen it go on a bit longer just to play out the deception and other things that were left out. The film just ends which kind of sucks. I guess to sum the mess of my explanation the plot is an intriguing comedy but it is not developed well enough. But if you can look at The Richest Girl in the World for what it is the film is really cute with great performances. 

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