Fun Pre-Code drama
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 07/04/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Hats off to Alpha/Oldies for their dedication in releasing these long-forgotten classics from Hollywood's Pre-Code days. PARTY GIRL (1930) is based on the "sensational" story by Edwin Balmer (entitled "Dangerous Business") and stars Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
Carefree young playboy Jay Rountree (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) awakens the morning after attending a rowdy party to discover he's married to Leeda (Judith Barrie), a notorious 'party girl' from the wrong side of the social track! In the meantime, Jay's secretary girlfriend Ellen (Jeanette Loff) pines away in the background...desperately trying to cover up her own past as a 'party girl'.
PARTY GIRL is a zippy little Pre-Code gem which runs just over an hour, long enough to tell it's uncomplicated story. The performances are fine, though Fairbanks gets quite hammy, and some of the other actresses (like kewpie-doll cutie Marie Prevost) act like it's a screwball comedy! I was most fascinated by the character of 'party girl' racket leader Miss Lindsay, and Almeda Fowler is great in the part. The role of scheming Leeda is also fabulous; I can definitely imagine a young Bette Davis giving Ms Barrie a run for her money.
This DVD from Alpha/Oldies comes from a very watchable print. Great title for Pre-Code fans."
Nothing really special about this precode
calvinnme | 03/07/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"There's nothing really shocking about this precode, not even for 1930. It's basically about a ring of professional "party girls" that work for one particular madam and go around entertaining bored businessmen. Doug Fairbanks Jr. is the partying son of the head of a manufacturing concern who crashes one of these parties one night and winds up with two souvenirs he could have done without - a huge hangover and a party girl wife. In the meantime, he's in love with his father's secretary who is a former party girl herself. Don't worry though, the local police are about to bust the party girl ring wide open and everything works out in the end.
What is really notable here is the extremely bad acting. I've seen Doug Fairbanks Jr. in several of his early roles, and even if the films weren't that great, Doug's acting was OK. Here he really hams it up, along with the rest of the cast. I can only chalk it up to bad directing by Victor Halperin who made a number of unmemorable B pictures in the 30's, the best being 1932's "White Zombie".
The one strange thing that keeps happening in this film that I've never seen before is that everyone seems to think it's OK to drive your car into the service elevator of tall buildings and emerge on the floor of your choice. Fairbanks and his friends do it when they are crashing the party, and the police do the same thing at the end.
My verdict would be to pass on this film, even if you're a precode fan. It's neither cheesy nor entertaining enough to be worth owning. The video and audio quality are quite good considering the film's age."
"and don't call me madam!"
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 03/14/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Party Girl isn't exactly the best film I've ever seen; but it has its plusses, too. The plot moves along at a good pace and Jeanette Loff sings a couple of rather nicely done songs in the flick. The acting varies somewhat; some of the actors turn in a decent performance while others come across as flat and unconvincing which is so typical of early "talkie" motion pictures. The cinematography is great and the choreography for the crowd scenes is terrific. In addition, Marie Prevost gives a great performance as Diana Hoster, a girl who loves all the diamonds and furs that she gets from the businessmen.
When the action starts, we quickly meet several characters (which is good since this film lasts a mere 61 minutes). We meet a woman who runs a female escort agency, Maude Lindsey (Almeda Fowler); her "agency" specializes in sending attractive young girls to parties where they use romance as a tool to seal business contracts.
We also meet a young man named Jay Rountree (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) who just wants his father for the money and rushes off parties at the drop of a hat. Jay never seems to realize that his true love really is his father's secretary, Ellen (Jeanette Loff). One night Jay's fraternity group decides to crash a party--and that's where some of the party girls are that night. After a few slick moves, one of the party girls named Leeda (Judith Barrie) sets Jay up so that he thinks he spent the night having romantic time alone with her; and she even tricks Jay into marrying her in order to protect his name. Leeda also does this to get a big deal for her real boyfriend Paul Newcast (Lucien Prival) to sign--with Jay's father John (John St. Polis). John Rountree is the head of a large glass company who despises the practices of using romantic time with women to seal business deals; and he certainly would be shocked if he knew how he really got that Newcast account!
There are some particularly striking scenes from this short but interesting movie. The parties take place in a building that has a freight elevator large enough so that an entire car full of people can just ride up and then drive literally onto the floor where the party is being held! In addition, there's one particularly self-indulgent party scene in which one of the girls takes a bath in a waterfall pond filled with numerous types of perfume--wow!
Will Leeda get everything she wants from the Rountree family? Will Jay ever realize that his father's secretary, a former party girl herself named Ellen is the girl for him? Will the Rountree glass company keep that big Newcast account? Watch the movie and find out!
The DVD itself has no extra features unless you count scene selection as a bonus.
Overall, Party Girl is a fun but not too memorable film from the early days of sound movies. It certainly tries to show that party girls are not exactly leading the purest of lives; but the film lacks the shock effect you would expect it to have. In addition, the print suffers from little to no restoration and the lines aren't always easy to understand because the sound system must have been crude. I do recommend this film, however, for fans of "pre-code" movies; and people who are fans of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. will also want this DVD in their collections.
Three and one-half stars."
Great Pre-code Fun!
Jery Tillotson | new york city | 03/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This forgotten pre-code gem from l930 is fun all the way. I loved the fashions and hair-styles and dialogue from that era. The banjo driven musical soundtrack is also very true to that era when dixie land combos were all the rage.
What really wowed me, though, was the performance of Judith Barrie,as hard partying girl, Leeda, who tricks Douglas Fairbanks,Jr.,into marrying her. She gives an early Bette Davis type of performance where she spits out her disgust and hatred and contempt for law and order. She electrifies her every scene. Equally entertaining is the very bawdy and evil Madam, played with gusto by Almeda Ford. That's the fun of watching these exploitation flicks--sometimes performers still shine through the fast-moving plots. I always wonder: whatever happened to Judith Barrie and Almeda Ford? At least we have them frozen on film, recorded in some poverty row studio in l930 who gave all-out performances that still shine nearly 80 years later."