A surprise success that won Frank Borzage his second directing Oscar, Bad Girl hasn’t worn as well as some of his other romances. It opens with Dot (Sally Eilers) in an elegant wedding gown talking nervously to her ever-present friend Edna (Minna Gomball). When she sails out of the room, we realize that she’s modeling this wedding dress for lecherous male department store customers. This opening emphasizes Borzage’s indifference to matrimony, as does his decision to simply skip the wedding of his leads, Eilers’s sexy Dot and James Dunn’s rough-Irish Eddie. There’s some charm and poignancy in this couple’s constant wisecracking, especially when they sit on the stairs of her apartment house and ponder their future while a whole cavalcade of miserable humanity trudges up the stairs and yells out of their doors impatiently. And there’s a classic Borzage moment when Eddie playfully chases Dot around the room, gathers her up in his arms, and yanks her hat off: it has the effect of exposure, of nudity, as if he’d pulled her panties down. But after they marry, the film dissolves into yards of talk and some manipulative, dated situations. Eilers’s good looks can’t make up for her lack of acting ability, and Dunn’s Eddie is just a dry-run for Spencer Tracy’s fake tough guy in Man’s Castle (Borzage had wanted Tracy for this role). It’s a down to earth, prosaic sort of film, a different kind of love story that proves Borzage’s range and serves as a rough sketch for later movies.
- Fox Film Corporation
- 89 min
- Frank Borzage
- Edwin Burke
- Sally Eilers, James Dunn, Minna Gomball, William Collier Sr., Josephine Hull
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