Mitzi Martos (Harriet Hilliard) is on a train to Santa Barbara. Her stop is drawing close, but her heel has become stuck in a crack between two of the train cars.
Another passenger on the train, Barry Saunders (Gene Raymond), attempts to help Mitzi free her shoe. He also falls in love with her as soon as he meets her.
Mitzi, for her part, is not so interested in Barry. He asks her where she’s staying in Santa Barbara, and she dodges the question. At the first opportunity, she leaves her shoe and makes a run for it, leaving Barry alone and confused.
Barry has a bit of womanizing reputation, but he thinks he’s finally found the one in Mitzi, and he enlists the help of hotel detective Parky (Parkyakarkus) to track her down. Even if he finds her, they won’t be able to get hitched immediately, though. If he wants to get his inheritance, he can’t marry until he turns 30.
Meanwhile, Mitzi’s mother (Ann Shoemaker) is trying to arrange a marriage between the young woman and Joe (Joe Penner), a wealthy but bumbling man.
William A. Seiter directs 1937’s The Life of the Party.
This flick starts out with a little bit of a Cinderella story, Barry hunting for the owner of a particular broken shoe. He’s no Prince Charming, though, and Mitzi doesn’t see him as such, which lends a funny twist to the usual chance meeting/sudden separation formula.
The relationship between the two as it progresses throughout the film is pretty stinkin’ adorable. The way Mitzi pretends to have no interest in Barry, only to smirk as soon as his back is turned adds a lot of humor and charm to the romantic side of the plot.
In fact, the romance between Barry and Mitzi was my favorite aspect of the film. I would have preferred to see more of that, and a little less of the sillier moments of comedy.
But there is also some fun wordplay to enjoy. Parky is constantly mistaking his words, which brings a few laugh-out-loud lines (like one in which he asks when another character will start becoming a man, after having the real meaning of “evolution” explained to him). Barry also gets in a few self-deprecating digs, like “This is one heel you’re not going to be able to kick off” (which he says in conversation with Mitzi).
Not a pure comedy, The Life of the Party also includes a few lovely songs. Many are pleasant but unmemorable. However, there are a few standouts. My favorite: “Roses in December.”
The Life of the Party isn’t a great film, but a nice enough watch if you’re looking for a cute but somewhat silly musical. The score: 3/5