Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 1935. RKO Radio Pictures. Screenplay by Dorothy Yost, Mortimer Offner, Jane Murfin, based on the novel by Booth Tarkington. Cinematography by Robert De Grasse. Produced by Pandro S. Berman. Music by Roy Webb. Production Design by Van Nest Polglase. Costume Design by Walter Plunkett. Film Editing by Jane Loring. Academy Awards 1935.
Katharine Hepburn plays a working-class girl in a snobby New England town whose rich socialites are a crowd she so desperately longs to be a part of. Her mother urges her ailing father to abandon the job he has taken sick leave from and open up a glue factory so that Hepburn can have all the parties, corsages and new dresses she likes (well, they call it “need”). Things perk up when millionaire Fred MacMurray falls in love with our heroine, but she threatens to screw it up by constantly trying to pretend she’s richer than she is. Hepburn is delightfully charming and witty, and definitely powerful in the film’s final scenes, but the story gives in to a limited view of both the classes it portrays. All the rich people that Hepburn consorts with are such cold, ignorant and snobby bitches and her own family so warm, loving and delightfully vulgar that our sympathies for her wanting to switch teams end up being rather limited. On the other hand, this film was released during the Depression, so it’s very unlikely that any audience member would have begrudged her her ambition.