Blondie of the Follies is the story of two girls living in Depression-era New York who escape poverty by going on the stage and then becoming kept women. How scandalous! This pre-Code film opens with an all-out slap fight between its female leads (played by Marion Davies, who also produced the film, and Billie Dove in her last film role). From there, it moves on to depict heavy drinking and child neglect as part of life in a poverty-stricken New York tenement.
For all the glitz and glamor of the stage, this is actually a fairly dark film about the situation of women during the Depression. It seems a far cry dialogue-writer Anita Loos’s earlier works like the snappy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes or even the lavish silent film Intolerance.
As one character outright states: “This big gay life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, is it?”
The scene that sparked my interest the most features a party performance of a song spoofing director Edmund Goulding’s other 1932 film, Grand Hotel. “One look at that guy Barrymore and you’re out!”