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Friday, May 16, 2014

THESE GLAMOUR GIRLS (1939)

Something of a shakedown cruise for second-string contract players @ M-G-M, this B-pic plays kid sister to THE WOMEN/’39, the big all-star/all-femme bitch-fest shooting elsewhere on the lot.* But in this Junior League edition, the guys are allowed on screen, waiting at the train station of their exclusive East Coast college when the gals arrive, hoping to stake a romantic claim at the annual campus party/debutante circuit. But there’s an outlier on the scene, taxi-dancer Lana Turner, invited on a drunken whim by young Wall Street scion Lew Ayres. Let the snobbery ensue! The story touches the expected bases as rich swells bump up against honest, hard-working, regular gal Lana (as well as working-his-way-thru-college guy Richard Carlson), while tentatively peeking at more interesting topics like social integration, sexual shelf life & class distinctions in a meritocracy. If only the film had time (or the wit & will) to go into these byways. Still, there’s fun in watching the young players try to stand out . . . and get their options picked up. And in seeing the struggle to find the best use for Lana T. She’s cute here, not smoldering, and even manages a swell dance routine. Too bad they left those shadowy social elements so undercooked.

DOUBLE-BILL: *Another likely template was STAGE DOOR/’37 which is hardly comparable, outclassing this in every way imaginable. M-G-M had just taken a whack at it (again with Turner) in DRAMATIC SCHOOL/’38, but you’ll find more parallels here, with near matching characters as well as an incipient suicide.

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