Despite my noted issues with the pricing and degradation of the medium (seriously, major labels selling grey market/home burn DVDs for more than they used to charge for a set of commercially released ones? Where do they get off?), there have been some real gems coming out through some of the MOD lines, with Warner Archives leading the charge by a country mile.
The latest surprising discovery is a 2-fer from the dawn of the talkies: Loose Ankles, paired with The Naughty Flirt.
Loose Ankles hails from 1930, and like most films from that year, still bears the mark of the flapper era in full swing. Loretta Young, later known to film buffs as the sort of longsuffering heroine that never fails to turn my stomach, is here surprisingly loveable (not to mention stunningly gorgeous!) as the sort of party girl you don’t find anymore: one with a knowing wink and a good heart underneath her need to have a good time (and skewer stuffy convention) at every turn.
Setting out to break an absurdly termed will by submitting the family name to public scandal, she winds up recruiting nice guy Douglas Fairbanks (unfortunately, the rather generic also ran Jr., rather than his heroic and good natured acrobat father, who is a pleasure to see in any early Hollywood feature). They wind up falling for each other, but not before some great speakeasy dance numbers, a very sexy shot of Loretta’s gams (check out the trailer on the link below), and comedienne Louise Fazenda getting well and truly pickled and starting a legitimately hilarious wrestling match with her consort for the evening. Great fun for all!
Then we get The Naughty Flirt, from 1931, but feeling just as much if not more a product of the Roaring Twenties as its companion feature. Cute and endearing flapper Alice White (think a big eyed, blonde take on Helen Kane, the inspiration for both Betty Boop and Cyndi Lauper) is an heiress who’s not only high spirited and a real party girl (favorite line: “when did you get home last night, young lady?” “oh, I don’t know…6, maybe 7…”), but fending off numerous would be fortune hunting suitors by her loose living, coquettish ways.
When one of her gang’s sprees lands the group in court, young lawyer Paul Page (who happens to work for her father) takes it upon himself to take the erring hellraiser home to papa, and winds up with her setting her sights firmly on him. Despite some sneaky opposition from a typically slinky Myrna Loy (during her pre-“they have a baby” Thin Man era, when she was the epitome of Hollywood sex and noted for playing “beguiling exotics”), the two wind up happily ever after.
While these are by definition frothy and meaningless light comedies, both are entertaining as a night on the town with a hot combo, some bathtub gin and a bobbed filly with big fluttering eyes and bee stung lips doing the Lindy or Charleston with you.
Try ’em, they’re the bees’ knees!