Toronto Film Society presented The Naughty Flirt on Friday, May 10, 2013 as part of Season 66 May Festival: The Pre-Code Weekend.
I haven’t yet seen this film myself and it didn’t get the greatest of contemporary reviews but Alice White, who is rarely seen these days, played in a number of pre-Code films. A couple of interesting trivia facts about Alice is that she began her career as a secretary and script girl, working for Josef von Sternberg and then Charlie Chaplin. Apparently she was Warners answer to Clara Bow who worked for Paramount.
Caren Feldman, May 10, 2013
Flat and complicated presentation of a simple story separates this film from deluxe consideration. Alice White’s remnant fandom in isolated spots may make some kind of b.o. for this one. Will need stage support and shouldn’t be handled hot because such action may tend for reverse customer reaction. Title hardly suggests the story which when cleared from a record number of climatic situations without punch can be reduced to a dumb number falling for a guy that’s hard to get and getting him. The story just pulls back an awful sock at the unimaginative filming of hoke moderne that could have made fair b.o. otherwise. Anybody who will believe Alice White’s posers as an office assistant in the latter part of the picture must be as silly himself.
As unbelievable as it may seem, the girl’s insipid piquancy offers the only real laughs in the film. That’s even if they may be inverted to customers they are still entertaining. Photography, situations nor acting is anything to mention all the way around and the dialog is never more than ordinary.
Film’s only action moment outside of the technical party scenes where dancing is shown, lies in the hero’s rush by auto to jam the approaching marriage of the heroine to a rival she didn’t even like. That’s a plot in itself. Before that happens, around three other plots are unreeled to give the film about four starting points and even more endings if and when desired. Choppy filmizing and bad entertainment.
The picture suffers audibly from an obvious effort to make the story hotter than it deserved. It gets braided and goes unreeled only with the help of around five silent titles. Those titles are the tipoff to the dialog and continuity.
The cast listing tells all that can be told about the cast.
VARIETY, Shan., April 15, 1931
THIS NAUGHTY FLIRT, First National production. Warner Bros. release. Directed by Edward Cline. Story by Earl Baldwin. Scenario and dialog by Earl Baldwin and Richard Well. Photographer, Sid Hickox.
The screen offerings at the WarnerTheatre are varied. They go from the ridiculous to the sublime or the sublime to the ridiculous, according to the time one enters the cinema. After having listened to the silly patter in the feature, “The Naughty Flirt,” and witnessing the energetic Daphne Pollard in “The Cat’s Paw,” one is privileged to hear Douglas Stanbury sing Joyce Kilmer’s beautiful poem, “Trees.”
As for the film, “The Naughty Flirt,” in which Alice White is the leading player, it is a production in which it is as difficult to find something to praise as it is to find a needle in a haystack. After Alan J. Ward, acted by Paul Page, has told Kay Elliott (Miss White) that she is a total loss, the blue-eyed blonde retorts by telling him vehemently to go jump in the lake, a favorite expression with her. For some reason or other this exchange of heated vernacular results in kindling further affection for Kay in Ward’s capacious heart. The picture might have ended here with a cuddle and a kiss, but the producers see fit to have something happen that will cause the young lovers to be at daggers’ points.
None of the characters being blessed with much in the way of intelligence, it is quite simple for Jack Gregory, who is himself smitten with Kay’s charms, and his sister, Linda, to compromise Ward. Kay, however, being apparently a true believer in suspense, stands up before a justice of the peace to be married to Jack, but when she is asked whether she will have Jack Gregory to be her husband that she replies in the negative. So all ends well in “The Naughty Flirt,” for it is only a matter of half an hour or so before Ward takes Jack’s place and Kay ends a life of flirtations and marriage proposals and acceptances, by becoming Mrs. Alan J. Ward.
This picture keeps to the orthodox idea of having a cocktail shaker in evidence part of the time. There are also scenes of dancing and in one of them one slipper from each girl is put in the centre of the floor and the men are asked to pick up whatever slipper they can and the owner is their partner for the evening.
As it has been stated, however, there is Mrs. Stanbury’s rendition of the inspiring words of Joyce Kilmer’s poem, which causes one to leave this theatre in a happier frame of mind if one harkens to it after having beheld the tedious antics in “The Naughty Flirt.”
NEW YORK TIMES, by Mordaunt Hall, April 13, 1931
Notes compiled by Caren Feldman