Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 1932. First National Pictures. Story by Kubec Glasmon, John Bright, Screenplay by Lucien Hubbard. Cinematography by Sol Polito. Produced by Samuel Bischoff, Darryl F. Zanuck. Music by Leo F. Forbstein. Production Design by Robert M. Haas. Costume Design by Orry-Kelly. Film Editing by Ray Curtiss.
Fascinating example of how different Hollywood films were before the introduction of the Hays code. Three girls know each other in grade school and then grow up to become three highly independent women: the school bully grows up to be a successful stage star (Joan Blondell), the rich sweetheart becomes a married woman who then leaves her husband and child for another man and a drug habit (Ann Dvorak) and the class valedictorian eventually morphs into a hard-working singleton (Bette Davis). Unlike later films, under the code, in which the moral judgment would be placed on the child who was bad to begin with (Blondell’s youthful counterpart is basically poor white trash), this one sees a respectable girl from a good home follow her nose into dirty sex and depravity, for no other reason than the fact that she wants to. It’s an enjoyable little melodrama, and is a great opportunity to see the great Davis (albeit too briefly) in a very early role.