Friday, May 6, 2011

Just a Gigolo (1931)

"Nothing says love like false identity!"

Billy Haines once again plays it devil-may-care in this disposable romantic comedy. He’s still charming as Lord Bobby Brummell, a playboy and eternal bachelor who has little faith in women’s virtue. When Lord George Hampton, his aristocrat uncle (played with proper bluster by C Aubrey Smith) purports to arrange a marriage between Bobby and a Roxy Hartley, a friend’s daughter (the lovely and birdlike Irene Purcell), he balks – then decides to pose as a gigolo in order to trick Roxy into indiscretion, therefore proving his theory correct. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and Brummell finds himself falling for Hartley despite himself. How will this end? Will Roxy discover Bobby’s plan?

Haines is a bit long in the tooth to be playing the young, impetuous nephew, but he does so with his usual mischievous humor, and he and Purcell have an oddly pleasing chemistry together. Charlotte Granville is appropriately grand as Lady Jane Hartley, Roxy’s mother (and defender of her purity). The plot has some fun, racy dialogue, and goes south towards the end – are we to truly believe Bobby wouldn’t have taken advantage of Roxy in that situation? – but is otherwise like a cup of coffee from the corner deli: light and sweet and nothing to write home about. Keep an eye out for Lilian Bond and Yola d’Avril in small but pivotal parts, and a ridiculously young Ray Milland hiding amongst the cast.

I give this one: