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SMALL TOWN GIRL (ONE HORSE TOWN)(director: William Wellman; screenwriters: Albert Hackett /Frances Goodrich/John Lee Mahin/Edith Fitzgerald/ based on the novel by Ben Ames Williams; cinematographer: Charles Rosher; editor: Blanche Sewell; music: Herbert Stothart; cast: Janet Gaynor (Kay Brannan), Robert Taylor (Dr. Bob Dakin), Binnie Barnes (Priscilla Hyde), Lewis Stone (Dr. Dakin), Andy Devine (George), Elizabeth Patterson (Mother),James Stewart (Elmer), Frank Craven (Pa Brannan), Nella Walker (Mrs. Dakin); Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Hunt Stromberg; MGM; 1936)
Dull feel-good romantic drama.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

William Wellman (“Battleground”/”The High and the Mighty”) dutifully directs this dull feel-good romantic drama. Reportedly Wellman and star Janet Gaynor argued about how to play her character. It’s based on the novel by Ben Ames Williams. The writers are John Lee Mahin and Edith Fitzgerald, and the husband-and-wife team of Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich. In the sleepy town of Carvel, Ma., the bored and restless Kay (Janet Gaynor) works as a grocery store clerk on the Saturday of the Harvard vs. Yale football game. Kay yearns to be with the happy elites of Harvard who pass her grocery store while partying in their cars. Elmer (James Stewart) is the nice but dullard telephone lineman, who is smitten with her but she has no romantic interest in him. After the game Kay walks alone in the town and a rich, handsome, young, Boston society doctor, Bob Dakin (Robert Taylor), stops for directions and convinces her to join him in Tait’s to celebrate with the other Harvard football fans. Bob gets drunk and stops off before reaching Boston to get married by a country justice of the peace. In the morning when Bob discovers he’s married, he schemes to stay married for six months to avoid a scandal and possible ruin his career. Meanwhile, the society girl Priscilla (Binnie Barnes), who was to marry him in a few weeks, has no choice but to go along with Bob’s scheme. Meanwhile nice girl Kay tries to win him over, and finds his parents (Lewis Stone and Nella Walker) are not against her. The MGM production values are high. The script is smart. The acting is respectable (though someone like Jean Harlow would have made the Kay character more animated and interesting). There was a musical remake in 1952 with Jane Powell and Farley Granger.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”