Vagabond Lady (1935)

Vagabond Lady (1935)

Directed by Sam Taylor this comedy written by Frank Butler (Going My Way (1944)) stars Robert Young Reginald Denny Evelyn Venable Frank Craven and Berton Churchill.

R. D. Spear (Churchill) is the dignified owner of a department store whose son Johnny (Denny) is courting Josephine the daughter (Venable) of his father’s less responsible college chum named Spiggins (Craven) who Spear keeps on as the store’s janitor. One day no one can find “Spiggy” until he is found sleeping in the bridal suite display. Though Johnny is frustrated that Spiggy’s daughter ‘Jo’ irresponsibly chews gumdrops an undignified action if there ever was one he continues to try to groom her for his future wife. She has yet to accept his proposal which is just fine with her father in any case.

One day Spear learns that his wayward son Tony (Young) is returning from traveling the world in his boat named “Vagabond Lady”. Everyone is excited he’s come home especially Spiggy who knows the kindred spirit since his daughter Jo grew up with Spear’s boys. Tony instantly turns the serious place of work at the department store on its ear when he arrives boisterously slapping the backs of his father and brother. He learns that Johnny has been dating Jo which is O.K. with him but when he senses that she’d rather go to the circus with him than the opera with his brother he schemes to make it so.

About to leave on a business trip Johnny asks Tony to “help him” with Jo take her to serious functions etc. while he’s gone. He hopes that Jo witnessing Tony making an effort in proper society will help her to grow up to become his bride. Surprisingly Tony does make an effort at it until Jo makes him take her to his boat. She returns home from this particular evening with Tony singing his praises to the delight of her father. Their next evening out doesn’t go as she’d hoped and Tony’s irresponsible side shows through; he jumps in a pool in his tuxedo and even gets arrested after an embarrassed Jo had left. However he sobers up to realize that perhaps he should be courting Jo himself.

The next day Tony arrives at the department store with men carrying bundles of flowers in tow only to learn that Jo has finally accepted Johnny’s proposal of marriage upon his return. Johnny is thrilled that Tony’s behavior has caused Jo to realize what dignity means. However Jo’s father Spiggy is not so thrilled; he gets drunk and decides to meet Tony’s boat before he leaves town upset with the turn of events. Though Tony tries to sober him up he is unsuccessful and decides instead to take Spiggy in his boat to the wedding. Jo shows up and gets the wrong idea that Tony is trying to keep her dad from making it to the ceremony which was really her father’s idea in the first place. Unfortunately the film gets rather implausible and predictable at this point beginning with Tony agreeing to take father AND daughter to the wedding in his boat. The screenwriter included a few too many “on again off again” scenes between the two characters who are obviously going to get together in the end and resolves the situation with Johnny a little too pat as well.

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