HOT SATURDAY (director: William Seiter; screenwriters: from a novel by Harvey Ferguson/Seton I. Miller/Josephine Lovett/Joseph Moncure March; cinematographer: Arthur L. Todd; John Leipold; cast: Nancy Carroll (Ruth Brock), Cary Grant (Romer Sheffield), Randolph Scott (Bill Fadden), Oscar Apfel (Ed. W. Randolph), Lillian Bond (Eva Randolph), Edward Woods (Conny), Grady Sutton (Archie), William Collier Sr. (Mr. Brock), Jane Darwell (Mrs. Brock), Rose Coughlan (Annie Brock), Jessie Arnold (Aunt Minnie), Rita La Roy (Camille), Stanley Smith (Joe), Marjorie Main (Gossiper); Runtime: 72; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William LeBaron; Universal Backlot Series; 1932)
“Agreeable dramedy about enduring life in small town America when gossips become malicious and an innocent girl loses her reputation.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Agreeable dramedy about enduring life in small town America when gossips become malicious and an innocent girl loses her reputation. The 28-year-old Cary Grant is bubbly in one of his early starring roles, in the first year of his long and distinguished movie career. Director William Seiter(“Room Service”/”Belle of the Yukon”/”The Lady Wants Mink”) makes the most of the Pre-Code period and throws in an in your face ending of an unmarried woman spending the evening alone with a playboy bachelor. It’s based on the novel by Harvey Ferguson, and the lively script is by Seton I. Miller, Joseph Moncure March and Josephine Lovett. The rarely seen film, unfairly panned upon its release, looks just fine to me now.
In the conservative small town of Marysville, the popular twenty-somethings hang out at the new lakeside dance hall, at Willow Springs, on what they call hot Saturday nights–an alternative to their dreary work week. The wealthy town playboy, Romer Sheffield (Cary Grant), has the hots for hard to get bank teller Ruth Brock (Nancy Carroll), and goes to extreme measures to meet her, even inviting her gang of youths to party in his country house and drink his booze, near the dance hall, on the afternoon before the gang goes in the evening to Willow Springs. While Romer flirts with Ruth, her work colleague date from the bank, Conny (Edward Woods), gets jealous. At Willow Springs, when Ruth refuses to neck with him on a traditional moonlight boat ride, Conny ditches her. Ruth walks through the woods and finds Romer’s house, and innocently spends some time there and is driven home by his chauffeur. The banker’s spiteful daughter, Eva Randolph (Lillian Bond), sees Ruth return home in the late morning hours and spreads the rumor that Ruth spent the night with Romer and the women gossips spread that filthy lie all over town. It results in Eva’s priggish bank president father (Oscar Apfel) firing Ruth for moral indecency.
Ruth is cheered when her childhood friend, the socially awkward Bill Fadden (Randolph Scott), a geologist, returns temporarily to his hometown after a seven year absence to do a geological survey for an oil company. Upset by the town’s narrow-mindedness and the lack of support from her bossy prudish mom (Jane Darwell), though her amiable cigar smoking dad supports her (William Collier Sr.), Ruth runs off to Bill’s mountain cave for comfort and accepts his marriage proposal. Set to get married on Sunday, the couple go to Willow Springs on Saturday night because the slimy Eva and Conny cruelly invite the unaware Romer to the dance hall. The gossips fill the insecure Bill’s head with their lies about Ruth’s character and he breaks off the marriage. That night Ruth spends it in Romer’s house and she realizes that Romer is her man, and the two leave the hick town to get married in New York and start life anew without interference from the local busybodies.
REVIEWED ON 8/13/2014 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ