That said, I love this movie! It's Bogart in his developing form, a gem in the rough, with some of the definition and charisma that we know and admire yet to be defined. Everything is there, the crooked, charming grin, the slight world-weariness, the confidence, the explosive intensity...just in smaller measures than we've all become accustomed to. It's early, it's fun, and it's as splendid as any of these great little 30's pictures that I love so much (maybe not as good as MY MAN GODFREY, but really what film is?).
The plot (basically) goes thusly: Spunky rich girl Carol Owen (played with the appropriate afore-mentioned spunk by Dorothy Mackaill, known to Phantom Empires from her role in the 1937 BULLDOG DRUMMOND AT BAY), is a modern girl. A very modern girl. An exceptionally, especially for the 30's, modern girl. She has bobbed hair, she smokes cigarettes, she rips around on a rocketing roadster, and she's free with her father's dough. Little does she know she's essentially broke. She gets the bee in her bonnet to take flying lessons, so she goes to an airfield, where she's introduced to the handsome (?) pilot Jim Leonard (Bogart's character, of course). There are sparks from the get-go. Jim takes her up in the sky in an open-seat biplane, and to test her spunkiness, he flips the thing upside down a few times, asking her "how you doing?", all the while with a dastardly grin on his highly amused mug. Well, she reciprocates with a high speed (for the 30's, anyway) drive back to town, zipping in between speeding vehicles, asking him the same bemused questions. It's fun. Jim is a man with potential, and with his design for a revolutionary new motor, he hopes to strike it rich and to fiscally deserve this fiery socialite.
Love ensues...with complications.
If I were going to make the conscious choice to support a silly holiday, this is a film that would make me happy to do so. It has a good combination of lightness and drama, as well as a good bland of innocence and brassy modernity. In these times this sort of almost childish wildness could be looked upon as naive (considering the extremes that we've come to, but here it comes off as a combo of awkwardly conspicuous and fresh freedom...which is usually how these things tend to be in life. It was a crisp little story with some nice turns. The plot didn't try too much (which is good for these roughly 70 minute pictures), and the writing ranged from serviceable to charmingly sparky. It was good for both Bogart lovers, lovers of the 1930's (and 20's, actually...it had the same spirit), and also lovers of love!
Bogart...such a unique actor.