Cary Grant was TCM’s star of the month in December — cause for celebration! I hoped to catch as many films of his as I could throughout the month — those that I hadn’t seen, or that I had only seen so long ago that I barely remembered them. Though I didn’t watch as many as I would have liked to, Hot Saturday was one of those new-to-me flicks, viewed on the WatchTCM website.
The film follows Ruth Brock (Nancy Carroll), a young girl living in a small town that’s full of gossip. She becomes the subject of much of that gossip after she is seen riding in a limousine owned by Romer Sheffield (Cary Grant) late one night.
Sheffield has already been the subject of many whispers in town. He’s wealthy and attractive, leading to a lot of speculation about his love life.
Ruth’s world is turned upside down by the rumors, which are not at all true. Romer simply let her take the car home after she escaped from an attack by her smarmy co-worker Conny (Edward Woods).
With her morals in question throughout the town, Ruth has only two allies: Romer, and her childhood friend Bill (Randolph Scott), who spends most of his time away from home, working as a geologist.
William A. Seiter directs 1932’s Hot Saturday, a Paramount pre-code tale of the damage that can result from a talkative town.
This film was released quite early on in Cary Grant’s career — his sixth film, if memory serves. Already, he is absolutely oozing charm. Filling the role of a handsome, wealthy ladies man, Grant is in his element, and setting the stage for what would (on the surface level, at least) seem like a million similar roles to follow.
Cary is full of charm, but Nancy Carroll is very likable, too. The character of Ruth has a bright personality, making her easy to empathize with, and Carroll has great screen presence.
As a pair, Grant and Carroll’s chemistry isn’t quite as high as I expected it to be, but they still have some very nice scenes together. A favorite is their talk on the porch, just before Conny arrives, on the night that Ruth is attacked.
The low-ish level of chemistry between Grant and Carroll works out for the film in the end, after Bill enters the picture. Randolph Scott (playing Bill) has quite nice, sweet chemistry with Carroll, and they’re easy to buy as old friends who have been reunited. Bill also seems to be a good fit for Ruth, as much as I love Cary and tend to root for him in romantic triangles.
All three of the central performances – Carroll, Grant, and Scott – are strong, as are many of the supporting performances. Edward Wood embodies Conny well, making the character every bit as easy to hate as he should be.
Hot Saturday takes a few dramatic turns, but there’s some amusing comedy to be had, too. Insults are thrown, everyone is ultra-flirty. At one point, Ruth’s mom refers to her friends as “good-for-nothing young puppies.” It’s all very amusing.
The pace of the film is a bit slow in the first half, and the film does feel slightly longer than it is because of this, but things pick up and become more engrossing in the second half. All in all, Hot Saturday is a pretty good watch — not one of the best of Grant’s filmography, but a solid entry. The score: 3.5/5