Beauty for the Asking


1h 8m 1939
Beauty for the Asking

Brief Synopsis

A jilted woman makes her fortune in cosmetics.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Release Date
Feb 24, 1939
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 10 Feb 1939
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 8m
Sound
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,144ft

Synopsis

Beautician Jean Russell finds herself jilted by cosmetic salesman Denny Williams after Denny ensnares the wealthy but dowdy Flora Barton. Denny marries the Barton millions, while Jean, in her loneliness, perfects a new facial cream, in which she interests Jeffrey Martin, head of an advertising agency. Jeffrey devises a clever advertising scheme around the product, which attracts the financial backing of Flora, who invests in the product to put her new husband in business. The cosmetics line becomes a financial success, and Denny, who is unhappy in his marriage and is thrown together with Jean everyday at the office, begins to renew his attentions toward her. Jean admits that she is still in love with Denny after Jeffrey confesses his own love for her and, to preserve her sense of honor, sends Denny to the West coast to open a new branch of the business. In Denny's absence, Flora comes to Jean for advice on how to save her marriage, and Jean counsels her to glamorize herself and play hard to get. When Denny returns, however, he rushes back to Jean, who then goes to Flora and confesses all. Flora agrees to release Denny in exchange for the cosmetics company stock, but Denny refuses to relinquish his wife's wealth. Flora divorces Denny anyway, and Jean, heartbroken, consoles herself with an extended trip. Upon her return, Jean's spirits are lifted when she finds Jeffrey awaiting her.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Release Date
Feb 24, 1939
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 10 Feb 1939
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 8m
Sound
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,144ft

Articles

Beauty for the Asking


Like every other starlet working in Hollywood in 1939, Lucille Ball screen-tested for the role of Scarlett O'Hara. Her zany talent packed inside that fiddle-dee-dee character strikes modern audiences as an obvious impossibility, but for Ball that screen test was a ray of hope. She had appeared in over 50 movies by 1939, and as her thirtieth birthday approached it seemed like her chance at stardom was running out. Still, when RKO gave her work, she gave it her all, like in this glamorous fable about beautician Jean (Ball) who, after being dumped by her cosmetic salesman beau (Patric Knowles), gets back on her feet by concocting a marvelous face cream. But when her ex's new wife (Frieda Inescort) becomes a major investor, will Jean rekindle her love for her old flame - or succumb to the charms of her face cream's advertising director (Donald Woods)? Socially conscious screenwriter Paul Jarrico (later a victim of the blacklist) exhaustively researched the chemistry of some of the questionable ingredients in beauty products of the time, intending to expose the "beauty racket", but little of his findings made it into the final draft which was heavily colored by the real life rags-to-riches story of cosmetics mogul Helena Rubenstein.

By Violet LeVoit
Beauty For The Asking

Beauty for the Asking

Like every other starlet working in Hollywood in 1939, Lucille Ball screen-tested for the role of Scarlett O'Hara. Her zany talent packed inside that fiddle-dee-dee character strikes modern audiences as an obvious impossibility, but for Ball that screen test was a ray of hope. She had appeared in over 50 movies by 1939, and as her thirtieth birthday approached it seemed like her chance at stardom was running out. Still, when RKO gave her work, she gave it her all, like in this glamorous fable about beautician Jean (Ball) who, after being dumped by her cosmetic salesman beau (Patric Knowles), gets back on her feet by concocting a marvelous face cream. But when her ex's new wife (Frieda Inescort) becomes a major investor, will Jean rekindle her love for her old flame - or succumb to the charms of her face cream's advertising director (Donald Woods)? Socially conscious screenwriter Paul Jarrico (later a victim of the blacklist) exhaustively researched the chemistry of some of the questionable ingredients in beauty products of the time, intending to expose the "beauty racket", but little of his findings made it into the final draft which was heavily colored by the real life rags-to-riches story of cosmetics mogul Helena Rubenstein. By Violet LeVoit

Quotes

Trivia

Loosely based on the career of cosmetics giant Helena Rubenstein.

Notes

Although the onscreen credits list Roy Webb as music director, Daily Variety credits Frank Tours in that capacity. Tours's participation in the final film has not been confirmed. Modern sources note that this film was loosely based on the career of Helena Rubenstein.