THE NAUGHTY FLIRT is a fun little diversion a picture best known for early role of Myrna Loy who now broke out of her roles of ‘Asians’ and other exotic folk. MGM still did not know how to use Myrna Loy but they would find out as well all know with the advent of the “THIN MAN” series. Another component of this film is the neglected performance, all be it dated of Alice White.
Alice White following in the ranks somewhere between Jean Harlow, Clara Bow and Colleen Moore. Moore was a contemporary of Alice White in that they shared subject matter of film plus a shared bobbed hair style influenced by Louise Brooks and the ‘Flapper’ look.
The Directing chair was inhabited by Edward Cline who had done work with Buster Keaton during the early 1920’s so the comedy, pace and camera angles are in good hands. Still learning to direct with dialogue at this time in Hollywood often made scenes seem static as if on the stage.
THE NAUGHTY FLIRT is your typical film of that nature as a rich party girl Katherine Constance “Kay” Elliott (Alice White) sets her sights of straight laced lawyer type Alan Joseph Ward played by Paul Page. You get the band of eccentric characters in the “gang’ all making fun of the police and authority figures. This is a pre-code picture so there is a lot of thumbing their collective noses and sometimes wrinkling them at the aspect of work and responsibility.
Pictures like these often will have an attempt at redemption or some type of ‘moral message’. In Colleen Moore film WHY BE GOOD (1929) which was silent was the message of the ‘good time” for the shop girl trapped in a clerk job and ‘wanting to live” similar to THE NAUGHTY FLIRT.
Alice White’s character did not have a job but rich lawyer father paying the way and finding out that she had ‘gone to far’ when arrested In true tradition Kay finds she must change so she goes to work for Alan with disastrous results. Ward even gets here to clean his inkwell. Kay is sought after and has the reputation of being engaged to a man after knowing him for only 30 mins. This was a talking film so you got plenty of examples of “Flapper’ slang and games. One game was a ‘Cinderella” dance where the shoes of all the women are tossed on the floor and the men scramble to get them then find the girl they fit.
In the end Kay does get her lawyer man with a bit of chicanery from others including her father. Myrna Loy is quite wonderful as the scheming Linda Gregory. Gregory does her best to try and get Alan (Or does she?) with a late night bedroom door sequence similar to farce the night before Kay’s wedding very well handled for the time by Edward Cline’s direction. Like it or not this is an Alice White picture and Loy’s star had not yet risen.
Alice White has been thought of a second rate Clara Bow with her style, her voice yet i beg to differ in that opinion. White brings an almost whimsical quality as she moves, dances, wiggles her nose plus the added feature of dialogue. White was also an early advocate of Fitness for screen stars and along with a few others took part in diet, exercise and massage routines supplied by one of the first fitness gurus Sylvia of Hollywood. Alice White wanted to improve so she took time away to learn acting in 1931. White’s career was derailed when she returned in 1933 with scandal of an affair with boyfriend actor Jack Warburton and another man screenwriter Sy Bartlett who would be her future husband. Unfortunately unlike her character of Kay in the film, she would not fair to well as she relegated to bit roles and leaving all together to be a secretary. Alice White passed away in 1983 at the age of 78 from stroke complications.
Her performances live on along with other such as THE NAUGHTY FLIRT which is a time piece of the “flapper” age like so many of them were this one with dialogue. Good fun, good performances and an emerging Myrna Loy. Champagne and responsibility flowed freely.