THE NAUGHTY FLIRT (1931)


 

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.

 

 

 

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