|Posted on January 17, 2019 at 5:35 PM|
Midnight Mary (1933), starring Ricardo Cortez, Franchot Tone and Loretta Young, was a pre-code drama adapted from a story by Anita Loos.
In this film directed by William Wellman, Loretta Young plays against type as an impoverished young women drawn into prostitution and associations with the wrong crowd in order to escape hunger and joblessness.
Ricardo Cortez is the "wrong side of the tracks" lover who draws her into criminal activity and promises to take care of her. When a robbery job goes wrong, Young happens to flee the premises with a millionaire playboy, Tom Mannering, Jr. (Franchot Tone). Because she has been seen by the police as part of the caper, she can't go back to the streets. Tone offers to send her to school and get her a job (in his law firm).
Predictably, the two of them can't stay away from each other and fall in love. But, just as they are about to decide to get married, a policeman spots her. Realizing that she would ruin Tone's career, she brushes him off and goes back to the crime gang.
But, everything works out in predictable Hollywood fashion. Tone, who resented always playing supporting roles, is good in this film, as is Una Merkel who plays Young's friend. It would have been nice to have seen more of both of them. But, Young shows that she can play the tough as nails gang moll as well as the innocent heroine.
The screen writers for this film (Gene Markey and Kathryn Scola) also provided another pre-code classic "Baby Face" (1933), which starred Barbara Stanwyck in one of her best early roles.
The Wages of Sin: Censorship and the Fallen Women Film, 1928-42 (Wisconsin studies in film) Hardcover – August 31, 1991
Marked Women: Prostitutes and Prostitution in the Cinema by Russell Campbell, 2006.