Successful songwriter falls for society girl who is just playing around. He doesn't realize that his girl-Friday is the one he really loves until it is almost too late. Although he is ...
See full summary »
A rich railroad tycoon, bored with his marriage (his wife has no time for him -- she's too busy giving parties and sailing on yachts) starts seeing a showgirl. This are going OK until the ... See full summary »
Angela and Bob Brooks are an upper class couple. Unfortunately, Bob is an unfaithful husband. But Angela has a plan to win back her husband's affections. An elaborate masquerade ball is to ... See full summary »
Robert will do anything to get the big account that has eluded him. His public relations business makes public angels of rich scoundrels. Jean needs someone to save the paper and she wants ... See full summary »
Olivia de Havilland,
In this light romantic comedy, 17-year old Loretta Young is cast as Ann Harper, a wealthy socialite who has inherited a fortune provided the family is involved in no scandals appearing in ... See full summary »
Douglas Fairbanks Jr.,
Successful songwriter falls for society girl who is just playing around. He doesn't realize that his girl-Friday is the one he really loves until it is almost too late. Although he is dazzled by high society, he overhears the society girl's admission of just fooling in time to avoid marriage. Played against a theatrical backdrop, there are lots of songs and production numbers.Written by
CHILDREN OF PLEASURE (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1930), directed by Harry Beaumont, is only a title that has no bearing on the story. The film has no children yet the title makes one believe it to be one about a childless couple who take in foster kids to bring joy and happiness in their lives. Nothing like that here, not even a song bearing that title to end the story. The film overall, taken from a play "The Song Writer" by Crane Wilbur, (also credited for dialogue), as scripted by Richard Schayer, is a musical about a fictitional songwriter. Following the formula pattern of screen musicals that have become the rage during the motion picture transition from silent to talkies, Beaumont, the director responsible for MGM's first musical and Academy Award winner, "The Broadway Melody" (1929) gives it another try placing the dark-haired, smiley-faced Lawrence Gray, Helen Johnson and Wynne Gibson in the leads rather than reuniting its "Broadway Melody" trio of Charles King, Anita Page and Bessie Love. While "The Broadway Melody" proved beneficial for the studio, with countless imitations that followed during the 1929-30 season, CHILDREN OF PLEASURE is simply one of minor importance.
As with "Broadway Melody," the plot is set mostly in the Broadway district of Manhattan where Danny Regan (Lawrence Gray), a young composer from the Bronx, coming to see and hear the songs he's written for stage performances at a local theater starring his friends, Fanny Kaye (May Boley), the featured singer (with four ex-husbands), and her partner, Andy Little, nee Levine (Benny Rubin) at the piano. During the show, Danny, who's in a relationship with Emma Gray (Wynne Gibson), secretary to song publisher Bernie (Lee Kohlmar), becomes infatuated with a beautiful blonde patron (Helen Johnson) seated next to him. He continues to give her the eye after she leaves. Danny notices the same blonde once again while attending another show featuring his melodies, this time meeting and making the acquaintance with heiress Patricia Thayer. Even though Patricia has been engaged "a dozen times" to Robert Peck (Kenneth Thomson), and not really in Danny's social class, she agrees to marry him as an experiment rather than for love, with intentions of divorce once she becomes bored with him. After Danny overhears her intentions conversed with Peck the day of their wedding, he tells her off and leaves, to become a hopeless drunk. As Emma tries to help Danny through his troubles, and Patricia wanting to explain what he's overheard, it's Danny who really settles the score.
On the musical program, songs include: "A Couple of Birds With the Same Thing in Mind" by Howard Johnson, George Ward and Reggie Montgomery (sung by May Boley, tap dance by male ensemble in black-face); "Raisin' the Dust" (sung by Lawrence Gray); Raisin' the Dust" (reprise, production number performed by May Boley and ensemble in devil costumes, one being future film actress Ann Dvorak); "Girl Trouble" by Andy Rice and Fred Fisher (sung by Gray, comic act performance by Benny Rubin and Wynne Gibson); " As I See You" "Leave It That Way" and "A While Darn Thing For You" (all sung by Gray, the latter accompanied by The Rounders). Of the songs, the last two are easily the best, while the initial two are given okay production number treatment choreographed by Sammy Lee.
While the pattern of entertainer/composer forsaking good girl for the love of the wrong one can easily be traced to recent musicals, notable exceptions being THE SINGING FOOL (1928) with Al Jolson; THE DANCE OF LIFE (1929) with Hal Skelly; and PUTTIN' ON THE RITZ (1930) with Harry Richman, CHILDREN OF PLEASURE, which should have been titled "Girl Trouble," very much belongs to the now forgotten Lawrence Gray. Aside from being in films since the silent era, and quite an acceptable singer, his career would fade to obscurity by the mid 1930s, never making the grade in popular singer category as popular singer as Al Jolson, Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra. Wynne Gibson, shortly before developing her craft as a "tough fame" over at Paramount and RKO Radio, is agreeable in the good girl role, while Helen Johnson (who later changed her name to Judith Wood), could physically be the equivalent to Josephine Dunn's performance in Jolson's THE SINGING FOOL, though Lawrence Gray doesn't end up singing a sad song like "Sonny Boy" to drown out his sorrows.
As much as CHILDREN OF PLEASURE lacks top names of real interest, then and now, film buffs should take great interest in spotting Jack Benny, future radio and TV comedian, and Cliff Edwards, in separate cameo roles playing themselves. Benny Rubin and May Boley as the secondary couple, offer comedy support through verbal exchanges reflecting more like vaudeville routines than natural flare of speaking, while Lee Kohlmar's Jewish dialect with Woody Woodpecker sounding laugh for stereotypical humor is definitely a reflection of the times way back when.
Though far from being a classic in any sense, CHILDREN OF PLEASURE should score well for those interested in the history and development of early screen musicals such as this. Seldom revived, even on Turner Classic Movies cable channel, don't expect finding any children in this one, only Lawrence Gray the composer who writes the songs. (**)
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this