Millie (1931): John Francis Dillon’s Pre-Code Mother-Daughter Melodrama, Starring Helen Twelvetrees, Lilyan Tashman, Joan Blondell, Anita Louise

John Francis Dillon directed Millie, a pre-Code mother-daughter melodrama scripted by Charles Kenyon and Ralph Morgan, based on Donald Henderson Clarke’s novel of the same name.

Charles R. Rogers’ independent production was distributed by RKO Radio Pictures, after their acquisition of Path√© Exchange.

Featuring Helen Twelvetrees in one of her best roles, as a betrayed wife who becomes a loose fallen woman, only to redeem herself at the end.

The movie’s impressive supporting cast includes Lilyan Tashman, James Hall, Joan Blondell, John Halliday and Anita Louise.

The tale begins with Millie (Twelvetrees) as a young, naive woman, who marries a N.Y. wealthy man, Jack Maitland (James Hall).

Three years later, unhappy due to her husband’s infidelity, she asks for divorce. Proud, she does not want money, but wans to ensuree her daughter’s future life. She thereupon grants Jack and his mother (Charlotte Walker) custody of her daughter Connie (Anita Louise).

Focusing on her career, she works in a hotel, shunning the attention of rich banker Jimmy Damier (John Halliday), instead opting for that of reporter Tommy Rock (Robert Ames).

Rising quickly Millie is promoted to the hotel’s operations head, while Tommy gets lucrative bank position. However, soon Millie discovers that Tommy, just like Maitland, is cheating on her.

Betrayed again, Millie gets bitter, and influenced by her friends, Helen and Angie (Lilyan Tashman and Joan Blondell), she becomes a “loose” femme,¬† dating and discarding various men.

After several years, Millie hears that Damier has taken an interest in her teen-age daughter, Connie, who bears striking resemblance to her. Millie warns Damier to leave her daughter alone, but he ignores her and takes Connie to remote lodge. Tipped off, Milie goes to the lodge and kills him.

In the murder trial, Millie tries to keep her daughter’s name out of the press, claiming that another woman ran out of the lodge after the shot. Millie’s friends, however, bring out the truth, and when the jury finds out that Millie’s motive was to protect her daughter, they acquit her.

In the happy ending, Millie is reunited with her daughter and the family of estranged husband.

The film became the property of RKO, which released it on February 8, 1931.

The suggestive taglines, “The Right Girl with the Wrong Men,” and “Torn From Her Arms, Child Of Love A Woman Can Give But Once,” helped promote the movie, whose successful marketing also benefited from Nacio Herb Brown’s melodic theme song, “Millie.”

Cast
Helen Twelvetrees as Millie Blake Maitland
Lilyan Tashman as Helen Riley
Robert Ames as Tommy Rock
James Hall as Jack Maitland
John Halliday as Jimmy Damier
Joan Blondell as Angie Wickerstaff
Anita Louise as Connie Maitland
Edmund Breese as Bob O’Fallon
Frank McHugh as Johnny Holmes
Charlotte Walker as Mrs. Maitland

Credits

Running time: 85 Minutes

Cinematography (b/w): Ernest Haller

Note:

I am grateful to TCM for showing this Pre-Code film on October 8, 2019.

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