Party Girl (1930)

“Don’t call me Madame!”

Party Girl is a tepid little melodrama directed by Victor Halperin and featuring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. The film is one of the morality tales that is supposed to simultaneously titillate and preach to its audience. Unfortunately, it does neither.

Maude Lindsay (Almeda Fowler) runs a shady “party girl” escort business, and the term “party girl” doesn’t carry the same meaning it has today. For the purposes of the film, it’s a euphemism for prostitute. Mrs. Lindsay provides her party girls for various informal meetings. They’re a sort of ‘perk’ for the businessmen who attend and are supposed to encourage contract signing, etc. One evening Mrs. Lindsay holds a party–complete with a bevy of her naughty girls–for the United Glass Company.

Jay Rountree (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) the wastrel son and heir of another glass manufacturer crashes the party, and although he’s seeking a good time, he finds himself up to his spoiled little neck in trouble when he becomes involved with “society trollop” party girl Leeda Cather (Judith Barrie).

Simplistic, and not particularly noteworthy, the best part of the film is the role of Leeda as the bad girl. Although the party girls are just the female version of playboy Jay Rountree, while his drunken faux pas are considered mere foibles, the females’ behaviour is interpreted, by the script, as morally reprehensible. Flippant Leeda, the worst of the bunch, callously teaches Jay a painful lesson on the need to stay sober. Made in 1930, Party Girl was originally banned, and it’s just recently been unleashed on an unsuspecting world. This DVD from Alpha video has some sound problems. The speech of some of the characters is not particularly clear, and there’s a loud background hiss for most of the film. The picture is acceptable, but it’s a bit faded in spots.

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