Hot Saturday is one of those films you need to watch, because it’s the epitome of everything that was wrong with popular culture in the 1930’s. I’m not talking about the film of course, which is spectacular, but instead the mindset that ran rampant across the country in that holier-than-thou fashion we all despise. Here it’s blamed on the “small town mentality” but we know it to be farther spread than that.
In classic pre-code fashion, Hollywood takes the ideal woman- beautiful, warm, caring, kind. The kind of girl that works at a bank and brings her paycheck home to her parents. Never done nothin’ to nobody kind of girl… and saddles her with a rumor spread by the town ninnies that ruins everything in her life. She loses her job, the love of her mother, the respect of friends and a reputation she probably worked years to obtain. Even her childhood sweetheart is lost in the aftermath of this hurtful lie. Put this film in modern time and there’s a fear that it could turn into Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream, with no hope for redemption. Kinda like social media. Thankfully, even Pre-Code films still require at least a little bit of a happy ending, it was post-Great Depression after all.
Nancy Carroll plays the girl thwarted by small town elitists beautifully. Cary Grant leads the pack as the town playboy no one trusts and Randolph Scott stumbles in as the childhood sweetheart too bashful to propose.
Romer ( Cary Grant) is the man about town but, oddly, sincerely interested in Ruth (Nancy Carroll). Ruth is a just a hometown girl with a steady boyfriend that ends up screwing her over one evening, forcing her to walk to a nearby house for respite. Of course, it’s Homer’s house she stumbles on. Now these two characters have a great acquaintance. Romer and Ruth flirt and there is some friendship there, but nothing more. There’s also some kindness there, and genuine caring which is nice to see. Needless to say all it takes is for “insert name of conniving friend here” to see Ruth get out of Romer’s car, as his chauffeur drives her home for the rumor to spread that she slept with him and is officially “ruined.”
After that a lot of bad stuff happens. Randolph Scott steps into the picture just in time to re-claim his spot as her soon-to-be-husband. And after a somewhat awkward evening they decide to get married straight away. Of course Bill ( Randolph Scott) doesn’t know that rumor. So it’s only a matter of time before he finds out. And he goes as quickly as he came.
Romer ( Grant) however, stays true through the whole mess. Still in love with Ruth and unaware of the rumor since none of it is true he’s excited to be back in her life once Bill leaves. So much so that happy endings are just around the corner.
Hot Saturday was one of the Columbia Pre-Code films I had seen that always stuck with me, and of course I could never remember the name. But now it’s on Amazon Prime, for “free” so was thrilled to get a chance to find this movie again.
Grant and Carroll have wonderful chemistry on screen and are also in The Woman Accused together. This film isn’t going to win any awards, but it’s definitely a fun watch.