Hot Saturday (1932) - A Cary Grant Drama


Actually, Cary Grant doesn't get much screen time in his seventh film, despite his character's prominence in the film. Hot Saturday (1932) is a story about gossip and its consequences. Grant's character, Romer, doesn't have to be onscreen to be mentioned constantly. He is a wealthy, smalltown guy who's rarely in town, brings strange ladies around and is therefore fodder for hot gossip.


Ruth (Nancy Carroll) is a respectable bank secretary who never gets into trouble... until one night. She's out all night, having escaped from a guy who wouldn't take "no" for an answer.  She drops exhausted on Romer's doorstep, he comforts her and sends her home in his car. People believe she's done something naughty with the town's bad boy. This is the turning point in Ruth's life, and it's dramatized by the over-sized faces of gossipers on the telephone superimposed over the image of the  local switchboard.
"Have you heard..."

Ruth loses her job and self respect. She's in a pickle. It's kind of like The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1945) - complete with eccentric father and smart-mouthed little sister - but with the ratio of comedy to drama inverted. However, unlike Morgan's Creek, absolutely no one believes our heroine's story or attempts to help her.
All by herself

Ruth is completely alone.

She runs to the boy-next-door, Bill (Randolph Scott), who just blew back into town and knows nothing of the scandal. He's the soul of truth and honor and respects Ruth as something beyond a paycheck (unlike her family) and something other than a social toy (unlike the other guys and gals in town).
Playful conversation with friend, Bill

[If you don't want the ending spoiled, read no farther.]

But even Bill rejects her when he hears of her reputation. Actually, he's more jealous of Romer than anything else. So in swoops Cary Grant to save the day and promises to marry the girl - two outsiders comfort each other and get out of Dodge. I guess the two or three little talks Ruth and Romer have in this film are enough to cement the decision, but the whole situation is rushed.

The lady has little alternative; you truly get a sense of Ruth's helpless state as a lady wronged by a group of gossips. The pity of it is the townsmen never realize what they've done, so it will likely happen again.

By the way, I absolutely love Nancy Carroll's wind-blown hairdo in the final shot, leaving home. It not only looks pretty on her, it's a symbol of freedom. Her hairstyles up to that point in the film are various contemporary helmet-like looks. Even her hair was constrained in that town.



Superfluous screenshot of Grant in a tux. I couldn't pass it up.


Hot Saturday had decent reviews. You can read the New York Times review of it by clicking here. It's kind of cute that they misspell Grant's name.


Update: Read the backstory of Hot Saturday at Carole and Co.   Carole Lombard was originally slated for the role.

9 Comments:

  1. Carole Lombard was initially cast at the lead, but wasn't happy with the script and backed out (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/97758.html).

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  2. Interesting! Thanks for the link.

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  3. HOT SATURDAY was remade nine years later as the 1941 Deanna Durbin vehicle, NICE GIRL? Of course, because it's a Durbin vehicle (a significant one that enabled her to graduate to fully adult roles) and was produced while the strict Production Code standards for the Studios were in full force, it's a much more "family friendly" variation on the story, with the obligatory "happy ending."

    Still, for all its' wholesomeness, NICE GIRL? is a surprisingly sophisticated film in some respects. Although Deanna resides in the obligatory oppressively wholesome small New England town, and has learned about "the facts of life" from studying "the habits of rabbits" her scientist father uses to test his theories on nutrition, the plot leaves no doubt that when she connives to be alone with sophisticated older man Franchot Tone, it's with the intention of losing her virginity to him.

    In the prelude to her awkward "seduction scene," 19 year-old Deanna is seen sipping champagne with Tone while dressed in a pair of sophisticated silk women's pajamas, toppped off with a turban yet! (The outfit inspired a popular children's rhyme at the time that began: "Deanna Durbin wore a turban...")

    Although more deliberately paced than many of her breezier vehicles (this may be largely due to the more leisurely directing style of William Seiter compared to other Durbin directors like Henry Koster and Norman Taurog), NICE GIRL? does handle this very touchy subject with genuine sensnitivity, and the performances of Deanna, Tone and Robert Benchley as Deanna's understanding Dad are uniformly excellent.

    If the pacing seems somewhat constricted by today's standards (and even in comparison to other Durbin films), NICE GIRL? like Deanna's earlier FIRST LOVE, created a huge "stir" in Hollywood at the time, as it was intended to mark Deanna's graduation to adult roles. For how big an impact this event had on Hollywood (and world) audiences), check out THE NEW YORK TIMES review of the film.

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  4. Java, I am so unfamiliar with Cary's earlier work, strange for a classic movie lover, and a Cary lover as well! This sounds really cute, and I'd like to see it. You have inspired me. I'm going to make a point out of seeing his earlier work. Nice article and great pictures!

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  5. Mark, You always share wonderful backstories. I knew Nice Girl? was meant to take Durbin one more step towards the onscreen sophisticate she so desperately wanted to be (the question mark alone is enough to raise eyebrows), but I didn't know of its connection to Hot Saturday.

    Since Nice Girl? is a highly sanitized remake, with no credit given to the original authors, one wouldn't have suspected they were linked except in general theme.

    Thanks for the insight!

    ClassickBecky,
    I was hesitant to watch it because the production values were not what one expects of a Cary Grant film, but the story drew me in. I didn't know how this movie would end, which intrigued me.

    There is the occasional scene of histrionics - the last hiccup of silent film to crossover into talkies - but Randolph Scott's performance as the all American boy-next-door is wonderfully -and consistantly- natural.

    -- JAVA

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  6. A Person in the Dark is passing the "The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award" to your wonderful blog. Please stop by A Person in the Dark to pick up your award!
    www.flickchick1953.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you, FlickChick.

    --Java

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  8. Just wanted to let you know I nominated you for the Liebster Award on my blog!

    ReplyDelete

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