Looking at Precode images and magazines they are swamped by stories and pictures of Alice White. I loved her in the small role as Warren William’s secretary in Employees Entrance but because most of her starring films are obscure I haven’t been able to locate any. A couple of days ago I stumbled upon “The Naughty Flirt” (1931) one of Alice’s few top billing features. With a name like that the movie looked promising and I decided to do a little film review in honour of my find.
After a wild party, Kay Elliott (Alice White) and her friends are picked up by the police and taken to the courthouse. They are soon released, but as a way to defy her father through his straight-laced, but handsome employee, Alan Ward (Paul Page), she agrees to marry her friend of three days, Jack Gregory (Robert Agnew), on the spot. To prevent her, Alan rings her father and, on orders from Mr Elliott, drags her from the building and throws her into a cab.
And that’s just the first ten minutes.
After Kay and Alan leave, her other friend and sister to Jack, Linda Gregory (a raven-haired Myrna Loy), discusses the marriage with her brother; spilling the beans on their scheme to tie Kay to Jack securing the family part of Kay’s $5 million dollar wealth. Back in the cab, Kay attempts to use all her feminie attributes to soften Alan’s hard edge. Girls take note at Alice’s fluttering eyelashes, sultry glances and wrinkling nose techniques. Alan finds her cute but doesn’t crumble to her charms and leaves her to her father’s angry reprimands.
just couldn't stop taking shots of Alices cute expressions.
Mr Elliott goes through Kay’s list of crimes like it was the resume of a career criminal: crashing two automobiles, setting fire to a speed boat, throwing ginger ale bottles through every pane of glass in the hot house and the dubious record of being expelled from every school she attended. And to all this Kay says, “Daddy why didn’t you tell me you had such a nice man working in your office.” She has clearly got her father wrapped around her little finger.
In an endeavour to hook Alan, Kay invites him to a number of her parties, but he just rips up her invitations. A few days later, Alan finally agrees to attend one of Kay’s usual nightly romps under the misapprehension that it is in fact her father and his boss, Mr Elliott’s, birthday party. He rebuffs her and ignores her invitation to join the dancing.
Meanwhile, Linda sees Alan’s arrival as a threat to her and her brother’s gold-digging schemes. She sees Kay’s determination as tantamount to a future wedding announcement.
“When Kay Elliott starts after a man, she never misses.”
In a twist, Kay asks Jack to arrange a dance with Alan, but it backfires and he is lured into the arms of the cunning Linda (in a saucy low-backed dress). Kay will take any means to get Alan, perhaps the only man who sees her for more than her wealth. Even though, Jack and Linda take just as many risks to prevent her catching him.
All the men after Kay...
Jack wants Kay, men want Kay, her father wants Kay at a quiet boarding school. Kay wants Alan – but will she get him.
“I’ve always played fair and never done a deliberately rotten thing in my life.” Kay
Admittedly, the film lacks an interesting storyline and is generally consistent with other early talkies which attempt to capitalise on the success of the “partying” and “flapper” films of the late silent era (ie Clara Bow, Colleen Moore). However, Alice White and her bright eyes make up for the films other deficiencies by whipping out dozens of snappy comeback and remarks that keep the movie cute and interesting.
There are a lot of brilliant virtually silent scenes, such as, when Kay tries to prevent Alan to turning her in to her father, which makes me think how great the film would have been silent and how Alice’s acting technique is still stuck in that style.
In inclusion of the cute “Cinderella dance” where the girl leaves one of her shoes in the middle of the dance-floor for men to grab for the next couple of dances is a wonder flapper-esque moment with hoards of men racing towards Kay’s shoes.
Myrna Loy plays a small role as the ‘bitch’ character of the film. She continues the characters that became typical for Myrna over the Precode era – “Animal Kingdom” and “Thirteen Women” – with her one goal of binding Kay into marriage with her brother solely for her millions. She doesn’t spare any morality by attempting to trap Kay’s other admirers and pressuring her when she is obviously drunk.
Other than partying and plenty of heavy drinking there are little ‘Precode’ moments in the movie. Unless, you call the short scene where Alan – frustrated by Kay’s “man crazy” ways – leans her against his knee and spanks her repeatedly, Precode.
The spanky: during and after...
Although, another smaller instance when Linda lures Alan into her room late at night under the pretence of feeling faint. He is found with her wrapped around him by Jack who insinuates the worst. Also, the character of Wilbur who, although he seems to stick by Kay, is obviously gay.
Alice’s flirty glances, pursed lips, squeaky tones and flapper lifestyle are reminiscent of Clara Bow in her talkie debut “Wild Party” (1929) and are, in my opinion, equally as cute. I think this was a very cute, very entertaining film – with a few boring patches – that is worthwhile for any Precode enthusiast but not if you are a fan of heavy emotional dramas, such as, Elia Kazan films.
Kay to Wilbur: “Wait a minute Wilbur I want to see a man about a cat.”
Alan to Kay: “I know your reputation, you’re supposed to be fatal.”
Alan: “And Miss Elliott to how many men are you engaged to at the present moment.”
Kay: “I don’t remember maybe six, maybe seven.”
Alan: “Well that’s enough to make to court rest.”
Kay: “That’s enough to make anyone rest.”
Kay: “You haven’t seen me in a bathing suit have you?”
Kay: “Not bad, not bad at all.”
Blink and you will miss it...