Thursday, February 18, 2016

Gotta Love a Man with Eyeliner

For my next pre-code film choice, I again relied on a YouTube recommendation. Night Work (1930) had a still of a bunch of babies as the preview image, so I was curious as to how the tots fit into the story.

As it turns out, the story is a romantic comedy about Willie, a lowly department store clerk who unwittingly sponsors a orphaned boy. He wants to continue being the boy's benefactor, because he has eyes for the pretty nurse, but the weekly cost of his new ward is more than his humble salary allows. With a little ingenuity, and the help from his gum-chomping pal Aggie, he finds a way to keep up his charade.  .  .because of course the pretty nurse assumes him to be a wealthy businessman.

The leading actor is Eddie Quillan, who links this blog post to yesterday's in that he later went on to star in The Grapes of Wrath (1940) alongside Jane Darwell. Quillan's career began in vaudeville and in silent films. He does resemble The Tramp, but with a baby face.

Gotta love a man with eyeliner

He had alot of secondary roles in films, and made many appearances on various TV sitcoms, including Little House on the Prairie. He's not a household name, but his career lasted alot longer than the actress who plays his love interest in this movie.

I couldn't find out much about Sally Starr (the movie actress, not the TV cowgirl). Apparently, she bean her career on Broadway, went to Hollywood and signed a contract with MGM in 1929, and her last movie was in 1938. There's been very little written or made public about her personal life, but she lived until 1996, so I guess we are to assume that following the end of her Hollywood career (either from circumstance or personal choice) she made a decision to live a quiet life. There were some typical publicity shots, from Broadway and Hollywood, available of Starr online, but considering her quiet exit from the silver screen, this photo seemed most appropriate:

As for the movie, it was probably my favorite one this week, and in a while. The story line, and humor, could've easily been translated into a modern romantic comedy which made it very easy to watch. I think one of the only scenes which really marked it as pre-code is a humorous one in which Aggie must pretend to be a mannequin (to avoid being caught in the men's back room, and subsequently fired), and the boss comes in and demands that Willie undress the dummy. It's about as scandalous as watching Robin Williams strip repetitively in Mrs. Doubtfire, but a scene involving a man undressing a woman, and having it suggested that he take off her bloomers, probably couldn't have gotten past the censors had it been proposed a decade later.

I'll definitely be looking for more pre-code romantic comedies to watch, but even more so, I'll be on the lookout for information about Sally Starr. 

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