Agnes “Aggie” Appleby (Wynne Gibson) is a hard luck gal. She’s about to be evicted from her apartment, and on top of that, her boyfriend Red (William Gargan) is being arrested for assaulting two policemen.
Aggie makes do by sneaking into the apartment building where her friend Sibby (Zasu Pitts) works as a maid. She sleeps in an empty room… but is soon found by the room’s paying tenant, Adoniram Schlump (Charles Farrell).
Schlump is a shy man, startled to find a woman stranger sleeping in his bed. But he takes pity on poor Aggie, offering to buy her dinner, and later offering her a place to stay when he finds out her beau is in jail.
Aggie may make a “man” of the timid Schlump, introducing him to some of her criminal friends. But what will happen when Red gets out of jail and finds she’s been living with another man?
Mark Sandrich directs 1933’s Aggie Appleby, Maker of Men. The film was written by Edward Kaufman and Humphrey Pearson.
Aggie isn’t the type of gal who necessarily tries to cause trouble, but it sure does seem to follow her, from brawls over her honor to beaus in jail for knocking the teeth out of cops. Her life is certainly anything but dull!
Wynne Gibson is not a name thrown around too often, but she’s fun to watch in the role of Aggie. I haven’t seen too many of her films, but she made quite a few, especially in the pre-code era. After watching this film, I’ll be seeking out more of her work!
As for Aggie’s men, they couldn’t be more opposite, which makes the film all the more entertaining. Farrell and Gargan are both fine in their roles, by the end of the film sort of swapping places, Schlump gaining some toughness and Red losing some.
Also a highlight of the film is Zasu Pitts, a total delight as Aggie’s pal Sibby. She has some silly but memorable scenes, including one in which she declares, “Mae West’ll have to come up and see ME sometime!”
Aggie Appleby, Maker of Men is an absolute pre-code, if the title and release year didn’t already tip you off. Aggie parades around in her underclothes in front of a man she’s just met, and carries on premarital affairs with not one, but two men in the time we spend with her. In fact, she thinks she may genuinely be in love with both men. The scandal!
As the film moves along it becomes more dramatic, and it makes that shift from rom-com to something slightly more serious much more successfully than other films of its type. This is thanks in large part to Ms. Wynne, who pulls off all aspects of her character’s journey well, from the lighter moments to the adventure to the drama.
Tune into Aggie Appleby for a well-constructed love triangle, a few laughs, and a nice lead performance by a lesser-known actress.