According to kayfrancisfilms.com, Girls About Town is “unavailable” – not to be found on DVD or TCM. Well, that’s too bad as many are missing out on a really fun light comedy from director George Cukor (The Philadelphia Story). There’s something about many of the Kay Francis films of the thirties. It’s the extravagant dresses, the glamour, the pure escapism. She may have grown tired of it all over the decade but it sure hits the spot now and then. She’s always strong, smart, charming and, of course, beautiful. Puts men in their place and tells them what to say and do without them realising it. She’s decent deep down too, so audiences can delight when she gets what she wants. A little manipulation here and there can’t hurt a man as long as it’s good for him… and as we’ve already established, Kay is what every man wants. It’s escapist comedy and it’s fun.
In Girls About Town, Kay and Lilyan Tashman are just that – ladies who can get what they want from men. That being money. They entertain the wealthy for an evening or weekend and collect a tidy sum for their efforts. Any men who get the wrong idea are skilfully deflected, without even realising they’ve been rejected. Things change, however, when one of them falls in love. Of course, things aren’t straightforward, so while one girl pursues live game, the other continues in her jewel hunt. It’s funny, easy to watch and the central pair are great. The rotund Eugene Pallette, a familiar face (and voice) from many other films (e.g. the sublime My Man Godfrey) is amusing, as usual. I don’t think you could ask for more from a film like this.
Since Lilyan Tashman wasn’t a name I was familiar with I tried to find out a bit about her. Unfortunately she died of cancer in 1934 at the age of thirty-seven. Still, she had been in sixty-seven feature films. Manhandled from 1924 looks like it might be worth a look. It stars Gloria Swanson. Will see if I can track it down.
EDIT: Probably got a bit carried away above – in many films Francis isn’t what you’d call decent, but she’s always the flame that men are drawn to, whether it’s good for them or not. Too bad so many of them are hard to track down – she’s what you’d almost walk off a bridge for!