Friday, October 19, 2012
Wise Girl(1937). Romantic/comedy. Cast: Miriam Hopkins and Ray Milland.
The story begins when the rich, socialite Susan, travels to the Greenwich Village incognito, to take two little girls' away from the charming artist and free spirit John O'Halloran, who is taking care of his dead brother's two young daughters, so they can be raised by her rich father.
Susan, tries to fit in by pretending to be an out-of-work actress and befriends John, the girls, a boxing sculptor Mike and Karl Stevens, an alcoholic painter.
Susan, soon falls in love with the eccentric John and she tries to talk him into participating in an art contest sponsored by her father, but .. he refuses out of pride.
After, John loses his sign painting job at Walker's department store and then unsuccessfully tries to sell vacuum cleaners door to door, Susan proposes to him and is about to tell him the truth about herself when authorities from the juvenile aid remove the girls from his home.
At the custody hearing, both Susan and John plead their cases to the judges, who grants custody to Susan and her father.
Although, they are well taken of, Katie and Joan miss John. Susan, then comes up with the plan to force John into painting an entry in her father's art contest, so he will have the money to support the girls. Will he come through with the winning painting?
Wise Girl, may not show Miriam Hopkins at her best, but it's a wonderful thirties comedy. Best scene is the chaos she causes at one of Guinn Williams' prizefights. Milland, has some fun scenes as well, especially trying to unsuccessfully sell vacuum cleaners door to door.
She was born Daisy Juliette Baker in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of William Baker and Harriet Anna Harong. As a child Daisy Baker lived in the southern states, where she was mainly raised by her godfather, the writer Joel Chandler Harris.
Dumont trained as an operatic singer and actress in her teens, and began performing on stage in both America and Europe, under the name Daisy Dumont and later as Margaret (or Marguerite) Dumont.
Her theatrical debut was in Beauty and the Beast at the Chestnut Theater in Philadelphia, and she also appeared as a singer/comedienne in a vaudeville act in Atlantic City.
She was best known for her vocal and comedic talents in: The Girl Behind the Counter (1908), The Belle of Brittany (1909), and The Summer Widower (1910).
In 1910, she married millionaire sugar heir and industrialist John Moller Jr. and retired from stage work, although she had a small uncredited role as an aristocrat in the film, A Tale of Two Cities(1917).
After her husband's sudden death in 1918, she returned to the Broadway stage, and soon gained a strong reputation in musical comedy productions. Her Broadway career included roles in the musical comedies and plays: The Fan (1921), Go Easy, Mabel (1922), The Rise of Rosie O'Reilly (1923/24), and The Fourflusher (1925), and she had an uncredited role in the film, Enemies of Women(1923).
She then came to the attention of writer George S. Kaufman, who hired her to play Mrs. Potter, alongside the Four Marx Brothers in their Broadway production of, The Cocoanuts (1925).
In October 1928, the Broadway show, Animal Crackers, opened, and Dumont was again cast as the wealthy society straight woman Mrs. Rittenhouse, in Animal Crackers (1930), Mrs. Gloria Teasdale in Duck Soup (1933), Mrs. Claypool in A Night at the Opera (1935), Emily Upjohn in A Day at the Races (1937), Mrs. Suzanna Dukesbury in At the Circus (1939), and Martha Phelps in The Big Store (1941). Her work in A Day at the Races earned her a Best Supporting Actress Award.
She also played the same dignified dowager in other movies, with W.C. Fields (Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, 1941) and (Tales of Manhattan, 1942), Abbott and Costello (Little Giant, 1946), Laurel and Hardy (The Dancing Masters, 1943), Red Skelton (Bathing Beauty, 1944), Jack Benny (The Horn Blows at Midnight, 1945), Wheeler and Woolsey and George "Spanky" McFarland (Kentucky Kernels, 1934) and (High Flyers, 1937, with Lupe Vélez thrown in for good measure), radio comedian Joe Penner (The Life of the Party, 1937), George "Gabby" Hayes (Sunset in El Dorado), and Danny Kaye (Up In Arms, 1944), and on television with Martin and Lewis (The Colgate Comedy Hour, December 1951).
Dumont also played some dramatic parts, such as Youth on Parole (1937) and Dramatic School (1938). She also appeared in Stop, You're Killing Me (1952), Three for Bedroom C (1952), Shake, Rattle & Rock! (1956), and Zotz! (1962).
Her last movie was What a Way to Go! (1964), in which she played Shirley MacLaine's mother, Mrs. Foster. Eight days before her death she made her final acting appearance on the television program The Hollywood Palace on February 26, 1965, where she was reunited onstage with Groucho—that week's guest host—one final time. They performed material adapted from Captain Spaulding's introductory scene in Animal Crackers. The taped show was aired on April 17, several weeks after her death.