The Reckless Hour


1h 12m 1931
The Reckless Hour

Brief Synopsis

A young innocent almost ruins her life for the love of an unfeeling cad.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Mystery
Adaptation
Release Date
Aug 15, 1931
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
First National Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
First National Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Ambush by Arthur Richman (New York, 10 Oct 1921).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 12m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

Clothes model Margaret Nichols meets wealthy young Allen Crane at the shop where she works. Allen immediately invites her to dinner, but Margaret, who realizes that he probably will not marry a woman from the working class, refuses. He tracks her down to her apartment above her father's bookstore in Jersey City where she lives with her absent-minded father Walter, her well-meaning mother Harriet and her sister Myrtle. Harriet is upset because she feels her daughters are not meeting the right kind of men in Jersey City, so when Allen appears to take Margaret for a drive, she is delighted. After Allen's parents leave to spend the summer in Europe, he rents an apartment in New York City. Margaret starts dating Allen regularly, despite her father's concerns. Eventually, Margaret spends the night with Allen, but tells her father that she stayed with Allen's cousins in New York. When Walter learns that Margaret's new bracelet is not a fake as she said, but rather an expensive piece of jewelry, he investigates her story. The next morning, when Walter tells Margaret that he knows Allen has no cousins in the city, she confesses the truth, adding that they want to be married, but Allen's father will not allow it. Walter calls on Mr. Crane and learns that Margaret is not the first woman to be involved with Allen. Crane confronts Allen in Walter's presence and Allen denies that he ever asked Margaret to marry him. Margaret, who has followed her father, overhears his lies and even though Crane insists that Allen will be held to his promise, she says she never wants to see him again. At home, she tells her father she is pregnant. In order to get the money to send her away for the baby's birth, Walter speculates in the stock market and loses everything. After Margaret's baby is born dead, she decides to bury her sorrows in work. Edward Adams, an illustrator who once met Margaret when she was with Allen, offers her a job posing for him. On the last day of the job, Edward, who is married, offers to take Margaret to Europe with him. She turns him down, but when she learns of her family's financial state and realizes they lost everything because of her, she agrees to go to France with him if he will deposit money in her bank account. In the meantime, Edward learns that his wife has divorced him. He proposes to Margaret, who, realizing that he really loves her, agrees to be married quietly on the boat.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Mystery
Adaptation
Release Date
Aug 15, 1931
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
First National Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
First National Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Ambush by Arthur Richman (New York, 10 Oct 1921).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 12m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

The Reckless Hour (1931) - The Reckless Hour


The popular plot device of a poor but honest working girl meeting and falling in love with a wealthy tycoon or aristocrat was already a film cliché before the sound era but that didn't prevent Hollywood studios from putting their top actresses in these formulaic movies that continued to please the women in the audience. Joan Crawford certainly paid her dues in this genre in such films as Our Modern Maidens (1929) and Possessed (1931) but so did Barbara Stanwyck in Ladies of Leisure (1930), Shopworn (1932) and numerous others. The main thing that distinguished them from each other was the cast and the tone. It could be played for laughs with Carole Lombard as a lowly manicurist hoping to hook a rich husband in Hands Across the Table (1935) or it could be played as an urban morality tale for impressionable young women as it is in The Reckless Hour (1931) with Dorothy Mackaill as a department store model from the slums.

Based on the play Ambush by Arthur Richman, this Pre-Code melodrama has a static, stage-bound quality and a storyline that yields few surprises. Yet it is worth watching for Mackaill's fully committed performance as the charming but victimized heroine and for Joan Blondell's vivacious presence as her wisecracking younger sister Myrtle. It also has a cleverly deceptive opening scene in which Mackaill, playing a character named Margaret Nichols, appears to be some affluent lady of the manor with a maid in attendance. In reality, she's just a model being dressed by an assistant for a fashion show in the adjacent salon. Her appearance sparks the interest of Allen Crane (Walter Byron), the playboy son of a millionaire, who pursues her relentlessly and eventually seduces Margaret. When she is abandoned by Allen, her father pays a visit to his father to demand that his son marry her but Margaret interrupts their meeting and vehemently refuses to accept a proposal. It looks like she is fated to be just another unmarried single mom when she accepts a modeling job from artist Edward Adams (Conrad Nagel), a friend of Allen's who had previously met her and was smitten. Despite the fact that Edward is married, the artist and his model have an affair that blossoms into something much deeper but there are some problems that simply can't be ignored such as Margaret's pregnancy and a stock market crash that spells financial ruin for the family.

While The Reckless Hour is not much more than a routine programmer from First National/Warner Bros., it has a brisk running time of barely 71 minutes and holds the interest by serving up the occasional odd detail. Margaret's father, for instance, is the owner of an unprofitable bookstore specializing in rare first editions that is situated in a slum neighborhood. There is also a sequence in which the Nichols sisters meet up with their respective dates at Luna Park, the fairground at Coney Island that was closed down in 1944. Best of all is the snappy patter that usually occurs whenever Myrtle (Blondell) and her blue collar beau Harry (Joe Donahue) are together. When Joe drops in on the family during dinner hour, Myrtle asks, "Would you have a bite?" to which he responds with the timing of a vaudeville comedian, "I just did and I scratched it."

Dorothy Mackaill would follow The Reckless Hour with William Wellman's lurid and compelling Pre-Code melodrama Safe in Hell (1931), arguably her finest sound era performance. She also had memorable roles in Love Affair (1932) opposite Humphrey Bogart and No Man of Her Own (1932) with Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. Yet she retired from filmmaking in 1937 and is not well known today which is a shame. On the basis of her surviving films, she was not only gorgeous and talented but with the right management and luck could have been as popular as Lombard, Harlow or Stanwyck.

Producer: John Francis Dillon
Director: John Francis Dillon (uncredited)
Screenplay: Florence Ryerson (adaptation); Robert Lord (adaptation, uncredited); Arthur Richman (play "Ambush")
Cinematography: James Van Trees
Art Direction: John J. Hughes
Music: David Mendoza (uncredited)
Film Editing: Harold Young
Cast: Dorothy Mackaill (Margaret 'Margie' Nichols), Conrad Nagel (Edward 'Eddie' Adams), H.B. Warner (Walter Nichols), Joan Blondell (Myrtle Nichols), Walter Byron (Allen Crane), Joe Donahue (Harry Gleason), Dorothy Peterson (Mrs. Susie Jennison), Helen Ware (Harriett Nichols), William House (Seymour Jennison), Claude King (Howard Crane).
BW-71m.

by Jeff Stafford
The Reckless Hour (1931) - The Reckless Hour

The Reckless Hour (1931) - The Reckless Hour

The popular plot device of a poor but honest working girl meeting and falling in love with a wealthy tycoon or aristocrat was already a film cliché before the sound era but that didn't prevent Hollywood studios from putting their top actresses in these formulaic movies that continued to please the women in the audience. Joan Crawford certainly paid her dues in this genre in such films as Our Modern Maidens (1929) and Possessed (1931) but so did Barbara Stanwyck in Ladies of Leisure (1930), Shopworn (1932) and numerous others. The main thing that distinguished them from each other was the cast and the tone. It could be played for laughs with Carole Lombard as a lowly manicurist hoping to hook a rich husband in Hands Across the Table (1935) or it could be played as an urban morality tale for impressionable young women as it is in The Reckless Hour (1931) with Dorothy Mackaill as a department store model from the slums. Based on the play Ambush by Arthur Richman, this Pre-Code melodrama has a static, stage-bound quality and a storyline that yields few surprises. Yet it is worth watching for Mackaill's fully committed performance as the charming but victimized heroine and for Joan Blondell's vivacious presence as her wisecracking younger sister Myrtle. It also has a cleverly deceptive opening scene in which Mackaill, playing a character named Margaret Nichols, appears to be some affluent lady of the manor with a maid in attendance. In reality, she's just a model being dressed by an assistant for a fashion show in the adjacent salon. Her appearance sparks the interest of Allen Crane (Walter Byron), the playboy son of a millionaire, who pursues her relentlessly and eventually seduces Margaret. When she is abandoned by Allen, her father pays a visit to his father to demand that his son marry her but Margaret interrupts their meeting and vehemently refuses to accept a proposal. It looks like she is fated to be just another unmarried single mom when she accepts a modeling job from artist Edward Adams (Conrad Nagel), a friend of Allen's who had previously met her and was smitten. Despite the fact that Edward is married, the artist and his model have an affair that blossoms into something much deeper but there are some problems that simply can't be ignored such as Margaret's pregnancy and a stock market crash that spells financial ruin for the family. While The Reckless Hour is not much more than a routine programmer from First National/Warner Bros., it has a brisk running time of barely 71 minutes and holds the interest by serving up the occasional odd detail. Margaret's father, for instance, is the owner of an unprofitable bookstore specializing in rare first editions that is situated in a slum neighborhood. There is also a sequence in which the Nichols sisters meet up with their respective dates at Luna Park, the fairground at Coney Island that was closed down in 1944. Best of all is the snappy patter that usually occurs whenever Myrtle (Blondell) and her blue collar beau Harry (Joe Donahue) are together. When Joe drops in on the family during dinner hour, Myrtle asks, "Would you have a bite?" to which he responds with the timing of a vaudeville comedian, "I just did and I scratched it." Dorothy Mackaill would follow The Reckless Hour with William Wellman's lurid and compelling Pre-Code melodrama Safe in Hell (1931), arguably her finest sound era performance. She also had memorable roles in Love Affair (1932) opposite Humphrey Bogart and No Man of Her Own (1932) with Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. Yet she retired from filmmaking in 1937 and is not well known today which is a shame. On the basis of her surviving films, she was not only gorgeous and talented but with the right management and luck could have been as popular as Lombard, Harlow or Stanwyck. Producer: John Francis Dillon Director: John Francis Dillon (uncredited) Screenplay: Florence Ryerson (adaptation); Robert Lord (adaptation, uncredited); Arthur Richman (play "Ambush") Cinematography: James Van Trees Art Direction: John J. Hughes Music: David Mendoza (uncredited) Film Editing: Harold Young Cast: Dorothy Mackaill (Margaret 'Margie' Nichols), Conrad Nagel (Edward 'Eddie' Adams), H.B. Warner (Walter Nichols), Joan Blondell (Myrtle Nichols), Walter Byron (Allen Crane), Joe Donahue (Harry Gleason), Dorothy Peterson (Mrs. Susie Jennison), Helen Ware (Harriett Nichols), William House (Seymour Jennison), Claude King (Howard Crane). BW-71m. by Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The credits note "Brunswick Radios used exclusively." Some sources list the title as Reckless Hour. According to modern sources, Robert Lord co-wrote the screenplay with Florence Ryerson.