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Under Eighteen

(1931 b 79')

En: 4 Ed: 5

A sister gets married and has to stay with her younger sister for financial reasons. The younger sister meets a rich playboy and tries to help her sister get a divorce by raising money for the lawyer.

            Sophie (Anita Page) tells her younger sister Margie Evans (Marian Marsh) that only marriages based on love do not end in divorce. Their father (J. Farrell MacDonald) and mother (Emma Dunn) walk down the aisle with Sophie, and she is wed to Alf (Norman Foster) who is a billiards player and has a pool hall.

            A few years later in 1931 on a hot evening Marge sits by the front steps with her boyfriend Jimmie Slocum (Regis Toomey) who talks about his work delivering groceries. He kisses her in the doorway.

            In the morning Jimmie is driving Margie to work. He tells her he has saved $800 and plans to get his own store. He parks the car and asks if she will marry him. A policeman is writing a ticket because he parked by a fire plug. Jimmie explains that he just asked her to marry him. The policeman asks what she answered, and Margie says yes. The policeman says he will have troubles enough and rips up the ticket.

            Margie works as a seamstress as female models in slips change clothes. One day after the models have left, François (Paul Porcasi) comes in and asks Margie to model a fur coat. She picks up a bouquet of orchids off the floor. She is presented to the rich playboy Raymond Harding (Warren William) who likes her as soon as he sees her. She tells him her mother really loves flowers. He orders Margie a large coke and a sandwich and pays for it before leaving.

            Jimmie is jealous that Margie met the playboy he loathes and that she did not have dinner with him.

            Margie is home with her mother, and a bouquet of orchids are delivered for Mrs. Evans. Sophie comes in with Alf and their child and baby. They ask if they can stay there because Alf lost a tournament and his pool hall. Sophie is very angry at Alf and nags him about getting a job. Margie sleeps out on the fire-escape.

            One day Sophie gets very angry at Alf for being a loafer who does not seem to be trying to get a job. They quarrel, and Alf hits her in the eye. Sophie tells Margie that she is going to divorce him, and Margie says she will help her, having heard the models talk about how it is done.

            Margie and Sophie consult with a lawyer, and Margie says she has the $25. The lawyer says the divorce will cost $200, and he needs the money tomorrow or they will  have to wait six months. Margie says she will get the money.

            First Margie goes to Jimmie, and he starts writing a check and asks what it is for. When she tells him it is for her sister’s divorce, he changes his mind.

            Next Margie goes to François who has offered to make her a model. She asks him to take it out of her salary; but he too refuses when he learns it is for her sister’s divorce.

            Finally Margie goes to Raymond’s penthouse where at least a dozen women and some men are swimming in the pool and drinking. She asks to see Raymond, and the butler tells Raymond who she is. He asks her to take off her clothes and stay awhile, and he has the butler give her a swimsuit and a kimono. Margie goes into the apartment to change, and Raymond comes in before she has put on the swimsuit but is wearing the kimono. She asks if he will loan her $200, and he says he will make it a gift. She plays along and drinks several glasses of champagne as they talk. Jimmie has arrived and follows the butler, pushing his way into the penthouse apartment. He sees how Margie is dressed and yells at Raymond. Margie criticizes Jimmie and says Raymond is a gentleman. Jimmie loses his temper and hits Raymond in the stomach. Jimmie runs off, and soon two men come in and find Raymond unconscious. They get a doctor who says it is serious. Police come in and say they must take in Margie. She is allowed to go to the bathroom to put on her dress. After a while they go in the bathroom and see the window is open.

            Margie calls Jimmy and leaves a message for him to call. She goes home, and soon Jimmie comes in as she is hiding. She is glad to see him and tells him he must run away or he may be charged with murder. Jimmy gives her $200. Similar amounts arrive from Raymond and François. Then Sophie comes in  and says that Alf won $1,000 in a billiards contest. She loves him again and says they are going away and runs out. Margie and Jimmy also learn that Raymond is all right now, and they realize that they have met their good fortune.

            This melodrama with a farcical ending portrays the struggles of the poor during the Depression as contrasted to the luxurious lifestyles of the rich.

Copyright © 2012 by Sanderson Beck

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