Strange Love of Molly Louvain (1932)

“I offer you nothing, and you accept it.”

When the pre-code film The Strange Love of Molly Louvain begins, Molly (Ann Dvorak) works behind the cigar counter at a hotel. She’s about to be introduced to her boyfriend Ralph’s wealthy family, but she’s also fending off two other men–bellhop Jimmy Cook (Richard Cromwell) and sleazy traveling salesman Nick Grant (Leslie Fenton). When Ralph dumps Molly, she plunges into a relationship with Grant, and he drags her into a life of crime. When Molly hits rock bottom, she’s working as a dance hall hostess.

The Strange Love of Molly Louvain is a good-girl-gone-wrong story with all the overtones of a grand soap opera. Molly grew up in poverty and was abandoned as a child by her mother who left her in a boarding house and ran off with a man. While Molly nurses this fact, she eventually discovers that history does repeat itself, and in an ironic twist of fate, she finally understands her mother’s desperation.

Jimmy Cook is the decent, good man who believes in Molly–even when she doesn’t believe in herself. And there’s another man in Molly’s life–jaded, ambitious newspaper reporter Scotty Cornell (Lee Tracy). The role of Scotty brightens the film–he’s wisecracking, manic, confident, and the minute he lays eyes on Molly, he labels her a “tinsel girl.” What’s interesting about The Strange Love of Molly Louvain–and what makes it’s different from many films in the same genre–is the fact that Molly’s redemption comes in a two-fold manner–through her actions with her child, and through the relationship she finally selects. Directed by Michael Curtiz.

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