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"Cocktails, Youth, and Dancing" was the headline of The New York Times ' review of The Naughty Flirt (1931). It sounds like a winning combo, but the picture failed to make much of an impression. The reviewer, Mordaunt Hall, wrote of the film: "It is as difficult to find something to praise as it is to find a needle in a haystack." Ouch. Variety echoed The Times, declaring: "Title hardly suggests the story which...can be reduced to a dumb number falling for a guy that's hard to get and getting him...Four starting points and even more endings."
The story casts Alice White as an heiress whose beau (Paul Page) has had enough of her spoiled ways. "Go jump in the lake," she tells him. Sensing an opportunity, a brother-sister team (Douglas Gilmore and Myrna Loy) who have lost their wealth in the stock market crash, move in on White, their plan being for Gilmore to romance and wed her for her money.
It's true there's not much there, and indeed the movie is only 57 minutes long, but it does offer a chance to see 26-year-old Myrna Loy in an early role. This was her last film under her contract to Warner Brothers, which generally wasted her talents while she was at the studio. Afterwards she did a notable Sam Goldwyn picture, Arrowsmith (1931), and signed with Fox for a year. After Irving Thalberg noticed her, an MGM contract followed and her career skyrocketed.
Alice White, on the other hand, was on her way down. She had recently been touted as Warner Brothers' answer to Clara Bow, but her time in the Hollywood spotlight was very brief. She was a secretary before entering the business as Josef von Sternberg's script girl, turning to acting in 1927. She rose to stardom just as talkies took over, but by the mid-1930s she was back to supporting roles. A dozen years later, after retiring from the screen, she was back to being a secretary.
Look for Marian Marsh, one of the loveliest actresses in Hollywood at the time, in her last uncredited role. Four months later she would star opposite John Barrymore in Svengali (1931), the real beginning of a successful career.
Director: Edward F. Cline
Screenplay: Richard Weil, Earl Baldwin, Frederick A. Bowen (story)
Cinematography: Sidney Hickox
Film Editing: Jack Rawlins
Art Direction: John Hughes
Music: Sam H. Stept
Cast: Alice White (Kay Elliott), Paul Page (Alan Joseph Ward), Myrna Loy (Linda Gregory), Robert Agnew (Wilbur Fairchild), Douglas Gilmore (Jack Gregory), George Irving (John Raleigh Elliott).
by Jeremy Arnold