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Plot:

A mug and a jane: Dorothy knows that every guy is going to make a pass at her; Eddie knows that every gal wastes her money on good times. He’s saving to open a repair shop. When the two of them meet, they can’t believe they get along. One evening he leaves her waiting in the rain; she finds his apartment and reads him the riot act. They end up spooning and napping until 4 AM. She’s afraid of her brother, who’s her guardian, so Eddie figures she should tell her brother that she’s getting married the next morning. Dorothy tries out the story but knows Eddie won’t show up. It’s the first of a series of promises, fears, miscalculations, and hard knocks. Where will they end up?

Also Known As: Zla dziewczyna, Uma Jóia de Rapariga, Rossz lány, Barn av idag, Плохая девчонка Soviet, Una chica mala, Bad Girl, Et Barn ventes, En dålig flicka?, Depois do Casamento, Лошото момиче

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  • joshua-flowers
    joshua flowers

    Frank Borzage enjoyed a long and successful Hollywood career first as a leading man and then as one of the cinema’s great romantic directors, but is relatively neglected today; his fan base today being fairly small but ardently and deservedly devoted. In his prime Borzage was evidently held in esteem within the industry itself, as his two Oscars attest. Major achievements like ‘Man’s Castle’, ‘Little Man, What Now?’, ‘Three Comrades’, The Mortal Storm’ and ‘Moonrise’ still lay ahead when Borzage collected his second and last Oscar in a strong year in the face of competition from contemporaries of the calibre of Mervyn LeRoy, Ernst Lubitsch, Rouben Mamoulian, King Vidor, William A. Wellman and James Whale, just for starters.So what was this trivial-sounding film that earned Borzage an accolade he never received again? Despite it’s obvious contrivances (Eddie’s boorish behaviour when they first meet should have promptly nipped any possibility of romance in the bud, would fantastically expensive top gynaecologist Dr. Burgess really have been such a soft touch?, and the happy ‘ending’ resolves nothing), Borzage works his magic with pretty thin material with the help of attractive players, particularly James Dunn, making his feature film debut. It’s certainly easy to imagine that few at the time managed to get through it with dry eyes, and it’s still worth your time today.

  • toni-cik
    toni cik

    Frank Borzage won the Academy Award for Direction for this film. That aspect of the movie is quite good, but much of the rest of it doesn’t hold up that well. First thing’s first, the title of this film (and actually the original novel on which it was based, I’d guess) is just a marketing ploy to make it sound salacious. It’s actually quite innocent, even for 1931. Sally Eilers plays a gal who is sick of men flirting with her, so when she meets one who doesn’t (James Dunn), she falls for him. The big problem with the movie is that Dunn is an awful jerk. The film tries to show that his tough guy exterior is just a shield for his sensitive inner self, but that doesn’t excuse his behavior toward his girl (who soon becomes his wife). He’s constantly whining, bitching and berating Eiler, not to mention treating her best friend (Minna Gombell) like crap every time she comes by. Given the title, I was kind of expecting Eiler to have to dump Dunn and make due as a hooker or something, but it turns out the film has a lot of affection for the prick. It’s not like he beats her or anything, but my prediction for the rest of Eiler’s life, as well as that of the baby she has near the end, is going to be really depressing, even after the Great Depression ends. She might be better off as a hooker.

  • kristin-baker
    kristin baker

    Borzage is a film-maker whose reputation has ebbed and flowed quite dramatically over time. And perhaps not surprisingly. His work represents, even more clearly than that of Ford or Capra, a combination of all that is the best and all that is the worst about US film.In the late twenties and early thirties, he was looked at as the brightest hope of the US cinema and probably deserves the accolade of being the winner of more undeserved Oscars than anyone else before the advent of Ang Lee. Subsequently his reputation plummeted (as did the quality of his films) but he is now once again riding relatively high in critical esteem, at least in respect of his early films.But even these are a vary mixed bunch. There are Borzage films I greatly admire, there are several which i Find irritating (most of the Gaynor-Farrell films) but this particular 1931 film I absolutely detest.Its reputation for “realism” (in the sense of naturalism, that rare bird in US cinema) is entirely unjustified. Any comparison for instance with King Vidor’s excellent The Crowd (1928) reveals immediately how spurious and fake the “realism” is here. One reviewer talks of ordinary people not being treated with “condescension”. They are in fact treated here as complete and utter idiots and the entire plot revolves around perfectly stupid misunderstandings that are only possible because of the characters’ extraordinary obtuseness. This is in turn set off by a fake naivety which is supposed to be charming but is just cringe-makingly sentimental. I have difficulty in imagining any treatment that could be more condescending…and this makes it, to my mind, not just irritatingly sentimentalised (as in the case of the Gaynor-Farrell films) but virtually a kind of pornography that demeans everybody associated with it.That such a film should be set during an economic depression and, ignoring any of the real problems of the time, should concentrate on such trivialities may in part be due to the fact, as another reviewer points out, to the fact that the original novel was written some eight years earlier but, in the context of 1931, it is absolutely grotesque although typical enough of the US cinema’s reaction to the depression.It is in part just the familiar Hollywood problem with “truth”. While The Crowd was hated by the studios and unsuccessful with the public (in practice the first tends to condition the second rather than vice versa), this saccharine piece of junk won another Oscar for its director.

  • mr-samuel-fischer
    mr samuel fischer

    If there was ever a movie with a misleading title, this one is it. With the title, “Bad Girl,” the fact that it’s Pre-Code, and the movie poster showing a scantily-clad woman lounging in a chair with her arms raised, while a man leers suggestively over her shoulder – you think this movie is going to be about a woman of loose morals, like Jean Harlow or Marlene Dietrich.But it’s not. Instead, it’s a romantic melodrama that tells the story of a young married couple trying to make it through their first year of marriage during the Depression. Dorothy Haley (Sally Eiler) marries Eddie Collins (James Dunn), a tough talking “Noo Yawk” radio salesman, who is secretly a softie inside. In the movie’s opening scenes, Dorothy is a streetwise dress model who easily parries the advances of men who make passes at her. But after she marries Eddie, she turns into an emotional girl with an overactive imagination. (When Eddie is late on their wedding day, Dorothy bursts into tears because she assumes he has deserted her.)Dorothy isn’t really a “bad girl.” She’s just dumb as a box of rocks! Unfortunately, so is her husband. Eddie and Dorothy spend the movie trying to make each other happy, but they’re both too stupid to realize they actually want the same things. This leads to an extended version of what Roger Ebert called the “Idiot Plot,” where there are lame misunderstandings and the characters keep secrets from each other for no reason except that the plot requires it. If they would just tell each other those secrets, it would solve all their problems, but it would spoil the plot. It’s called an “Idiot Plot” because the characters have to be idiots for it to work.Case in point. Soon after their marriage, Dorothy finds out she is pregnant. But Eddie has saved up $650 to open his own radio store. Not wanting him to spend his savings on her, Dorothy doesn’t tell Eddie about the baby. Instead, she tells him she’d like to go back to work, to earn more money. From this, Eddie concludes she is unhappy living in their one-bedroom apartment. So he spends his $650 to buy them a big house and furniture, which Dorothy likes but didn’t really want. Only then does she tell him she’s pregnant.Now, this could have been handled as a variation on “The Gift of the Magi.” But in the “Magi” story, the husband and wife actually learned something from their experience. Eddie and Dorothy learn nothing, and keep making the same dumb mistakes.Eddie and Dorothy each wrongly assume the other one doesn’t want the baby, which results in more problems with their marriage. When Dorothy decides she needs an expensive doctor, Eddie tries to earn the money as a boxer. When he comes home with bandages on his face, Dorothy accuses him of going to a speakeasy and getting in a fight, instead of staying home with her. For some reason, Eddie doesn’t tell her about the money he’s won, or that he got her the doctor she wanted.(On a side note, the movie’s one great scene is when Eddie steps into the ring with the Champ. He gets beaten up pretty bad and is about to go down when he whispers to the Champ that he needs the money because his wife is having a baby. The Champ says, “Well, why didn’t ya say so? I got kids of my own!” He then literally carries Eddie around the ring for a few more rounds, all the time talking about his own kids.)If this story had been handled comically, it might have been a forerunner of “The Honeymooners” and “The Flintstones.” (There were times when Eddie reminded me of Ralph Kramden.) Instead, we get a sappy romantic melodrama that is instantly forgettable.It’s surprising that Frank Borzage won an Oscar for directing this claptrap, and that the lame screenplay won an Oscar as well. Borzage made better films than this (see “Seventh Heaven” and “Street Angel”), and there were better directed films released in 1931-32 (such as Charlie Chaplin’s “City Lights,” James Whale’s “Frankenstein,” William Wellman’s “The Public Enemy,” and Edmund Goulding’s “Grand Hotel”). But AMPAS was young then, and young organizations are bound to make mistakes.

  • kiska-sigita
    kiska sigita

    I have to admit to low expectations coming into this film and happy to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. I don’t know if it was the time period this film was made, or just this script, but there were a lot of gender stereotypes reinforced within. Also the forced accents were a bit hard to take as well. Never-the-less I did find this film an interesting take of early films here in America and have to say there is an episode in which the male lead tries out boxing to make a few extra bucks, which I found outright hilarious. Yes, it’s a little forced but in general I found it fun.

  • jessica-holloway
    jessica holloway

    Bad Girl is another of Frank Borzage’s romantic dramas of the trials and tribulations of lovers usually caught in circumstances and forces beyond their control. In this case it’s the Great Depression and their own attitudes about romance itself.Their attitudes being that romance is just a lot of bunk. But attitude or not James Dunn who was making his feature film debut and Sally Eilers are in love in spite of themselves. I’m not quite sure why the film is entitled Bad Girl since there really isn’t nothing bad about Eilers at all. Possibly her original attitude though that is quickly corrected. These are just two people trying to get by, but they always seem to misjudge attitudes because of first impressions and say the wrong things at time.Take for instance the new apartment that Dunn uses all his savings in to impress Eilers. He says exactly the wrong thing about the two of them living only for today. That’s just at the time she was about to break the news that wasn’t to be two any more, but three.Dunn really loves her. How many husbands to earn an extra couple of dollars would go out and try to go 4 rounds with a professional prizefighter? Charles Sullivan proves to be a good guy however.So does Claude King as the obstetrics specialist who does Dunn a solid when Dunn wants him for his wife’s delivery. None but the best as Dunn beautifully carries off a scene breaking down begging for King’s services.The film adapted from a Broadway play of the previous year won an Oscar for adapted screenplay. It also won for Frank Borzage an Oscar for Best Director.Today’s audiences might get a kick out of the prices and the amounts needed for many things. Inflation has come a long way since. Still the themes are universal and I think Bad Girl holds up well today.

  • lenka-kolarova
    lenka kolarova

    Despite initial high ratings (IMDB), the 90-minutes now seems talky and strung out. Eilers is a model who’s heard every come-on in the book. Naturally, she doesn’t trust men, but then she meets Dunn cute in the rain. Surprisingly, however, he seems uninterested which nonetheless interests her in him. So her defenses ebb while he slowly warms up to Eilers’ winsome charm. The question is how their relationship will develop, especially when he conceals his money problems from her.The flick starts off well with what looks like a royal wedding ensemble parading through a high-class bistro. I guess the girls are modeling ritzy wedding gowns that really are quite a sight. There’s also a lot of snappy boy-girl badinage to percolate the proceedings. At that point, the snarky movie looks promising. Trouble is things soon settle into a talky soap-opera that meanders around in not very interesting fashion. Eilers makes for an appealing personality as she slowly lets her guard down. Dunn, however, lacks impact, perhaps because of his relentlessly good-guy role. Stealing the show is Gombell as Eilers’ sober-sided best friend. Her character projects the kind of spark the talky narrative needs.All in all, I’m not surprised the screenplay’s adapted from a stage play, always a risk for movie-makers who need to find ways to vary the stage talk. In my view, Borzage and Co. don’t succeed despite the accolades of the time, and despite the director’s well earned reputation .(Catch the big radio consoles of the time. They were a common living room fixture that families could gather around to hear “Amos & Andy” or “Inner Sanctum” if in a darker mood.)

  • sarah-goodwin
    sarah goodwin

    The title is a misnomer :there’s no bad girl in the movie,so this Borzage movie might not be what you are expecting.One of Borzage’s first talkies,and based on a play,it’s often too..talky.But the two principals make up for it with their spontaneity and their talent.The story is very simple;unlike many movies of the great director,the couple here does not have to fight against a hostile world -only the girls parents seem to be enemies but they are given only one scene- ,but actually against themselves.Particularly James Dunn whose dream is to own his radio store and who does not want children probably because he’s got bad memories from his childhood.Sally Eilers ,on the contrary ,wants to raise a family,and if she cannot,she intends to work again ,which her hubby cannot stand.Nothing melodramatic here,but an endearing depiction of everyday life of the life of a young couple during the depression years .Excellent scenes: James Dunn ,taking his wife to the brand new apartment he has bought for her ,spending every last cent .The same,crying his heart out in the doctor’s office The last scenes at a time -not so long ago- when husbands did not attend the childbirth and this extremely moving moment when Dunn asks to hold the child.All the happiness to become a father is in this scene.

  • iphigeneia-patelle
    iphigeneia patelle

    Producer: Frank Borzage. Copyright 18 July 1931 by Fox Film Corp. New York opening at the Roxy, 14 August 1931. 8,046 feet. 89 minutes.SYNOPSIS: A year in the lives of two young married people in New York’s tenements. The movie has considerably changed both the plot and the title character of the stage play. “Bad Girl” is now a totally incorrect title. There is no “bad girl” in the picture.NOTES: Feature film debut of Broadway stage star, James Dunn. (He had previously appeared in five movie shorts).The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences selected Frank Borzage for Best Directing (defeating King Vidor’s The Champ, and Josef von Sternberg’s Shanghai Express), and Edwin Burke for Adapted Screenplay (defeating Sidney Howard’s Arrowsmith, and Percy Heath and Samuel Hoffenstein’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde).Bad Girl was also nominated for Best Picture (defeated by Grand Hotel), and was placed 4th in The Film Daily poll of U.S. film critics (after Cimarron, Street Scene and Skippy). It was selected by The New York Times as one of the Ten Best Pictures of 1931. The stage play opened on Broadway at the Hudson on 2 October 1930 and ran a very moderately successful 85 performances. Sylvia Sidney played the title role, while Paul Kelly did the husband. Marion Gering directed.COMMENT: Frank Borzage was not only Hollywood’s king of romance, but a superlative craftsman who could play on the strings of an audience’s emotions like a master violinist. His own temperament echoed the image of a confirmed sentimentalist. A quiet man, Borzage (pronounced “Bore-zaig/ie”, the “zaig” rhymes with “plague”) never raised his voice on the set and never drew attention to himself. Untutored visitors always assumed he was a script clerk or continuity assistant.Yet any critic who writes a book on Romance in the Cinema will always place Borzage’s name at the top of the list. He really believed in what he was doing. In fact, he persisted in his adoration for Romance even when it was out of fashion. In this instance, of course, the movie struck a timely chord with Depression audiences.Oddly, In the free-and-easy, pre-censorship Hollywood world of the early pre-code 1930s, Borzage and his very clever scriptwriters Edwin Burke and Rudolf Sieber cleaned up Delmar’s play, changing characters and plot to an enormous extent, even though there was absolutely no pressure on them to do so. They succeeded in making Bad Girl far more romantic, if almost equally realistic. In fact, it’s not the romance that seems artificial, but the occasional comic relief. In the stage play, the heroine, a little Bronx stenographer (Sylvia Sidney), is an unwed mother who is forced to marry a petty racketeer (Paul Kelly), whom she tries to reform.The film “version” bears only one vague relationship to the stage play, namely the fact that two young people get married and settle down in a New York apartment. Otherwise, it is completely different in every respect. Mordaunt Hall in his review in The New York Times even goes so far as to state that the “only adverse criticism” he could make of Bad Girl was “its strangely unsuitable title.” He was being sarcastic, of course. He knew perfectly well how the title came about. He continues: “However, that is of small importance, for many a poor picture has boasted a good title.”This must-see movie, is now available on a 10/10 Fox DVD set. In fact, I’d like to give this movie 10/10 also, but that deceptive title might annoy some people.

  • mtro-cristal-ballesteros
    mtro cristal ballesteros

    Linked to many movies on IMDb are posters or pictures from the movie from which it came. However, in the case of “Bad Girl” you wonder if the artist ever saw the film or had any idea what the plot was! First, the figures on the poster look nothing like the actors (in particular, the guy is not anything like the ‘everyman’ James Dunn). Second, the poster makes the film look like a sex movie or at least one with a LOT of sexuality! But instead, it’s just a nice Depression-era film about a nice couple who are trying to make a lives for themselves. And what it has to do with a bad girl is also anyone’s guess!! Sally Eilers is a clothing model who is sick and tired of men always making passes at her or harassing her. So, when she meets Dunn and he is relatively indifferent to her, she is intrigued! Why won’t he act like a boorish cad as well?! Eventually, the two begin dating and fall quickly in love. Surprisingly, the supposedly cynical Dunn asks her to marry him and seems happy with exactly the sort of life he said he didn’t want. Then, when she becomes pregnant, she is worried, as Dunn wanted to start his own business and didn’t want kids–but once again, what Dunn SAID he wanted and how he reacted are quite different and he likes the idea of kids and doesn’t mind deferring his dream. Seeing the occasionally tough-acting Dunn show greater depth to his character was pretty enjoyable. There’s more to the film, but it’s probably best you see it for yourself.While the movie obviously was well-respected back in 1931 (as the director received an Oscar for his direction and it was nominated for Best Picture), it doesn’t play quite as well today. This isn’t to say it’s a bad film–it just seems a little old fashioned and dated…but still very sweet. But despite its age, it is worth seeing and is a decent film–a good showcase for Dunn and a nice little romance.

  • alfreds-saulitis
    alfreds saulitis

    Unfortunately, this is apparently a very scarce film, not available on VHS or DVD, and seldom if ever broadcast. However, as a fan of Vina Delmar I have read the novel upon which the film is based, and must point out that the story takes place in 1923. This was the flapper era, the roaring twenties, the jazz age . . . and the era of Prohibition!A very different period from that of the Great Depression, which began in 1929, and was two years old when the film was made.Whether the story line was changed to place the story in Depression-era New York instead of Roaring Twenties New York, is interesting to consider. I would dearly love to see this film, and to see how well it lives up to the very fine novel by Vina Delmar, BAD GIRL.Regis Hardy

  • richard-shepard
    richard shepard

    This pre-code drama, nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, is a delightfully witty yet potentially tragic melodrama about a pretty young model (Sally Eilers) who turns down all the wrong guys until she finds what she thinks is the right guy (James Dunn). They stay out all night together much to her reluctance, and the fact that she has a very domineering brother (William Pawley) makes her fear his reaction to her becoming engaged. While waiting for Dunn to show up so they can be married, she learns that he’s moved out of his apartment and been fired from his job. Fortunately, she has a friend in the outspoken Minna Gombell who was prepared to marry her brother and walked out on him after he insulted his sister. This clever scene has Gombell seemingly supporting everything Pawley says to see how far he goes, and when his brutality takes an extremely cruel turn, the truth about how she feels comes out. Gombell is very clever in her admission of why she broke up with him, telling Eilers, “”He saved my life. They send you to the chair these days for killing your husband.” Dunn shows his cynical sense of humor after hearing one of Eiler’s neighbors fighting retorting, “”There’s a tenement for you. A woman dies, a baby is born, and a guy’s wife won’t let him eat Limburger.”This clever script is as juicy as anything they were writing over at Warner Brothers for Joan Blondell or Barbara Stanwyck to spout and just as filled with insinuations as the dialog that Mae West would soon be uttering over at Paramount. When Gombell comforts Eilers, she has tears behind her laughter, telling her younger brother when Dunn finally does show up, “Open the door, Floyd, and if it’s a man selling coffins, tell them we’ll take two!” The drama occurs because Dunn gives the insinuation that he doesn’t want children, but she’s pregnant from the night they stayed out planning their future together. Not necessarily a great husband, Dunn spends more time trying to find work (eventually turning to prizefighting) than supporting his pregnant wife which brings Gombell down on him. So is she really a bad girl? Obviously in the eyes of her brother who raised her after their parents died and is morally appalled by the fact that she would marry Dunn so quickly rather than get his approval. Crisply directed by Frank Borzage with an excellent screenplay, this is one of those early sound films that really sounds true to life and touches the emotions. Truly worth a re-discovery, and in viewing the film, it is easy to see why it won Oscars for screenplay and direction.

  • karlo-kjeldsen
    karlo kjeldsen

    An interesting little Borzage love story set during the Depression, detailing the struggles of young couple (Sally Eilers & James Dunn) with their hopes and dreams. Curiously Borzage won his second Oscar as Best Director for this oddly heady little movie and that’s perhaps the only reason to watch it. It works as a timepiece of its era. But I definitely wouldn’t call “Bad Girl” one of Borzage’s best romances (in many ways it strikes me as turgid and unaffecting in several moments, and I didn’t like the ending), but it is definitely worth catching if you are fan or a student of the director’s sublime and unheralded oeuvre.

  • jose-manuel-chico-carlos
    jose manuel chico carlos

    Mack Sennett once called Sally Eilers “the most beautiful brunette in Hollywood” and she was very eye catching, even in roles that didn’t give her much to do. Then Frank Borzage started a hunt for a couple of unknowns for a film he was directing called “Bad Girl”. Sylvia Sidney had starred in the original Broadway production which was an adaptation of a best selling book by Vina Delmar and ran for 85 performances in 1930. Borzage wanted to find a new romantic team to rival Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell and originally he had wanted Spencer Tracy but he was unavailable. Sally was picked and for the male lead, a young, fresh faced actor from Broadway – James Dunn. For a film debut he had the ease and confidence of a veteran. He was sensational and should have been nominated for an Academy Award.This was not a typical “boy meets girl in the big city” romance. It had more in common with “The Crowd” although without “The Crowd”‘s bleakness. When we first meet Dorothy (Sally Eilers) she is modeling bridal wear but she is not at all dewy eyed – she has all the answers and knows all the lines to keep the “wolves” at arms length. She meets Eddie (James Dunn) at Coney Island and while it definitely isn’t “love at first sight”, they end the evening in a heart to heart talk at the bottom of the stairs. Eddie is a rough diamond who claims he can’t talk to women but somehow he seems to get on with Dorothy. Their’s is a bitter sweet romance – it’s real and something the audiences of the day could probably relate to. They marry and Eddie can see his long cherished dream of owning his own radio shop within his grasp. Sally has some news of her own – and after Eddie has a tirade about the stupidity of bringing a child into a world of poverty – confesses she is going to have a baby.The rest of the film is concerned with mistaken feelings. Eddie thinks Sally is not keen to have a child but she is only trying to hide her joy because of his gruffness. Inside he is tickled to death and often stops parents with prams in the street to ask their advice, he is also working overtime and risking his life doing amateur boxing to get Dorothy the best possible care. She doesn’t know and thinks he is spending his time in bars and getting into fights. In one of the most heart wrenching scenes, James Dunn plays with all the emotion he can muster, trying to convince a society doctor to deliver Dorothy’s baby. And for once a friend wasn’t just part of the furniture. Minna Gombell was great as Edna, Dorothy’s best friend and mentor. It was a 3 dimensional part – Edna was hard boiled and tough but astute enough to realise that Eddie was a genuine guy.This role should have made Sally a star but it didn’t. She and Dunn were paired several times but she became fed up and apparently refused to do “Jimmy and Sally” with him (Claire Trevor was substituted). James Dunn became an overnight star. He was extremely likable and also had a warmth and talent that both critics and the public liked.Highly, Highly Recommended.

  • agathe-charles
    agathe charles

    Note: some scenes described in detail.As usual for Borzage, this is full of sentiment, and the details of the plot are deadly. Never was the development of misunderstandings between two inarticulate people more aggressively, one might say more ruthlessly, pursued. When they’re not playing “Gift of the Magi” (he giving up the dream of his own radio store for the big apartment he thinks she wants), they’re busy each thinking that the other doesn’t really want the baby. And how could Borzage resist milking the maternity ward scene, with its inevitable ethnic cross-section, older woman, and troubled mother. And here’s another version of that typical pre-Code era film pair, the beautiful girl and the unhandsome blow-hard boob.All that said, this is still a very good film in spite of itself, certainly deserving of its Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. Borzage constantly redeems himself at the worst moments. A prime example: the evening before the baby’s due Jimmy goes out to fight four rounds of preliminaries at $10 a round to pay the doctor. Sally is lying at home, convinced that he’s with his drunken friends, or worse, and no longer loves her. Dunn’s opponent is a mean-looking, cynical, paunchy guy who’s about to knock him out in the second round. Oh, the ironic cross-cutting: he’s getting the crap beat out of him, while she lies in bed, anxious and bitter. But, in a clinch, Jimmy begs the pug not to knock him out because his wife’s going to have a baby. Why didn’t you say so, says the obliging pug, I’ve got two of my own. In an amusing moment they chat away while pretending to lambaste each other. This takes the curse off the sentimental plot maneuvering.And there are a lot of other fine sequences, too. The film starts with Eilers in a fancy wedding gown, being attended to by a dresser. She’s so nervous, she tells best-friend Gombell, who’s dressed as a bridesmaid. As they do the formal bride’s walk through the phalanx of bridesmaids, in the corner of the screen one sees part of a tray of dirty dishes being carried by a waiter. Gradually the camera pulls back to show that they’re modeling the gowns for a bunch of lecherous buyers. Then they go to Luna Park (nice shots of the park). Throughout these early scenes there are plenty of sharp pre-Code wisecracks about how men only have one thing on their minds. Funny, breezy stuff. They meet Dunn on the ferry on the way home, the first guy that doesn’t make a pass. The scene shifts to the couple sitting at the foot of her rooming-house stairwell. As they talk, an old hen-pecked lush comes down the stairs, and an older woman uses the hall phone to tell her sister that their mother has just died. That may be pouring the milieu on a bit thick, Borzage style, but this scene is beautifully played by Eilers and by the older woman and is quite affecting. Later, when Eilers stays in Dunn’s room (no hanky-panky, it seems) and he asks her to marry him, her brother kicks her out of the house, and Gombell, the brother’s gal, walks too. (Single-mom Gombell’s little boy is a terror. In the morning he won’t scram: “I want to see Dotty get out of bed.”) Sally is sure that Jimmy will desert her at the alter, and that’s the beginning of all the tear-jerking plot elements.But the film goes beyond those elements with a richness of detail, a generous painting of daily life in the city during the Depression. And, when all’s said and done, what really makes the film, and where Borzage ultimately redeems himself, is in the performances. Eilers, who somehow never got the recognition she deserved, is beautiful and gives a strong, sensitive, emotional performance–for my money a more appealing one than most of Janet Gaynor’s work for Borzage. Gombell, another undervalued thirties player, is really fine as the tough but good-natured pal, who doesn’t let Dunn’s dislike of her color her opinion of him as a good husband for Eilers. Her performance goes beyond the requirements of the script in very subtle ways. And Dunn, well, he plays the typical early-thirties boob of a husband, but even he has a bravura scene when he breaks down while having to beg the expensive doctor to handle his wife’s childbirth. Borzage films are always full of sentiment, but not always honest sentiment. This scene with the doctor is full of sentiment, but it’s honestly handled, and one can say the same for the whole film.

  • michele-victoire-renault
    michele victoire renault

    Bad Girl is included in the new Murnau/Borzage and Fox collection,and kudos to them for making it available! Though an excellent little slice of life film from the Depression Era, I definitely wouldn’t say that it compares with Borzage’s timeless silent romances, though Borzage’s recurrent theme of love conquering all is here to.The lead actors,Sally Eilers, and James Dunn, both do fine jobs, especially Dunn, who paints a very realistic portrait of a “regular Joe”, decent kind of a guy. His performance rings true, and he later made a comeback, winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.(1945) This is the story of a young couple’s struggle to make it through marriage, finances, and becoming parents. The background story of what was considered “making it” in a poor economy is especially pertinent today. Dunn’s character, Eddie Collins, thought it was opening his own radio shop, providing his wife with an elaborately furnished apartment, and getting her the best doctor for her delivery. Not so different from what young couples are facing today! The film is sometimes a bit too wordy, but the slang of the time is a hoot! As one of Borzage’s smaller films, it’s worth a watch.

  • fru-sofia-pedersen
    fru sofia pedersen

    I finally tracked down Bad Girl. It had been on my list of wanna sees for years as it had won a major Oscar for Best Director- Frank Borzage.It was one of those tantalizing early talkies that had not actually been lost it had merely fell from sight. When I finally saw it last year at a Borzage revival, the film was a revelation.It was a pre-code delight about an ordinary couple, falling in love, struggling financially and having a baby etc.It most reminded me of the great silent film-The Crowd, which dealt with similar matters. What was especially fascinating to me was its depiction of “average” lower middle class types and how they lived and spoke in Depression America. The apartments… the slang, all of it, seemed real. It wouldn’t be until the 50’s neo realism hit American movies that we would see ordinary people depicted on the screen again, without condescension The movie has all the Borzage trademarks- love surviving against all odds, even an exciting if a little hokey climax.Unfortunately, the film has been slighted often in movie books,most likely, because the authors have never actually seen it. If it is ever shown again, try to see it. It’s a wonderful peek at average city folks in Depression America.