Ann Harper (Loretta Young) is a beautiful, young socialite who stands to inherit a fortune on two conditions: her family can not be scandalized in print, and she must find a husband that her aunts and uncle approve of.
The catch? Ann isn’t the only one with big cash at stake. The surviving members of the family will all get a cut of the big payout.
Ann becomes determined to cause a great scandal, ensuring that none of her family members will receive inheritance money, because she’s unhappy with the terms of it. She doesn’t seem to care at all about the money and wants to teach her greedy family a lesson.
One newspaper advertisement later, Ann enlists the help of Gil Hayden (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) to “compromise her” and create a big scandal. However, her plan goes awry when she and Gil actually begin to fall for each other.
Ted Wilde (1924’s Girl Shy, 1925’s The Freshman) directs this pre-code bit of romantic comedy fluff known as Loose Ankles (1930). The film is based on a play by Sam Janney, adapted for the screen by Gene Towne (1937’s You Only Love Once).
Loose Ankles has a fun and upbeat mood from the opening, setting the stage for the light, comedic romance that it turns out to be. Loretta Young taps her feet along to a delightful title song, and the audience is tempted to tap along, too.
While the script is perhaps a bit too dialogue-heavy and not every single laugh goes over well with the audience, Loose Ankles is in general every bit as entertaining and charming as it should be.
There aren’t any unexpected turns, either, but the successful laughs make up for that in terms of holding the viewer’s attention.
Loretta Young, of course, gives a pretty great lead performance. It’s all too easy for early talkies like this to feel extremely stiff, but in general Loretta does a solid job of delivering her lines naturally and drawing the audience into her character’s journey.
Young and Fairbanks Jr.’s performances seem to be bolstered by each other. Each of their best scenes in the film are the ones in which they appear together.
Louise Fazenda and Daphne Pollard are stand-outs of the supporting cast, providing quite a good chunk of the film’s best comedic moments.
In some cases, the slew of wonderful character actors who fill the supporting roles in this film easily outshine the leads. For fans of these character actors or of lesser-known actors in general, this makes the film a real treat.
Though not perfect, Loose Ankles is a film that will appeal to a whole lot of people: fans of Young and Fairbanks, Jr.; fans of romantic comedy; fans of pre-code; anyone interested in early roles of classic film stars (Young is only 16 or 17 here). Between the cast and the laughs, it’s certainly worth a watch or two. The score: 3/5