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The Wild Party

(1929 b 77')

En: 5 Ed: 5

A vivacious college girl wants to have fun while in college, and she falls in love with a professor; but a friend of hers has been turned in for the appearance of impropriety with a man.

Stella Ames (Clara Bow) tells her friends in the dormitory how she accidentally met a man in a sleeping berth on a train. Then they discover that he is James Gilmore (Fredric March) and teaches anthropology. They all sign up for his class, and he warns them the course is difficult. When he calls the roll, he assigns the frivolous Stella to sit in the back.

For the annual girls costume party Stella and three friends don matching outfits which they hide under fur coats until they get to the party. Faith Morgan (Marceline Day) objects to their risqué apparel, and they decide to go to a roadhouse. There some drunk men think they are sluts and try to take liberties with them. They prepare to make a getaway in the taxi, and Stella knocks out the light. As they drive off, the other three girls realize that the fourth woman is not Stella; but the driver refuses to go back. They see Gilmore walking along the road and tell him Stella needs help. He runs down the road and after the car with the men and Stella. She pushes a lever to get the car to stop and escapes. Gilmore suggests they walk through the woods to another road. He explains that he is serious about his work and is used to being in a jungle. The three men find them, but Gilmore is able to push the intoxicated men away and help Stella escape. Stella and Gil verbally spar, and then he kisses her to show her how he really feels.

The girls learn that Gilmore was shot in the shoulder by the men in revenge; but so as not to compromise Stella he said he was attacked by a robber. Gil assures Stella they both are safe. He is away from the college for a month.

At a party tipsy Al (Jack Oakie) tries to get fresh with one of the girls. Stella and her friends rescue her by spinning him around on the dance floor until he is dizzy. Helen (Shirley O'Hara) goes off to the beach with George (Jack Luden), and concerned Stella goes after her. She argues with George who implies that Stella is a loose woman who thinks all men are the same. Stella shows him that she cares about Helen, and the three are reconciled.

Stella goes to see Gil late one night, and he makes a fire for her. She hears the fire alarm and sees that her dormitory is having a fire drill. He helps her go out the back way, and she gets there just in time for roll call. Meanwhile Helen was writing a love letter to George about their night at the beach; but it is lost during the drill. The snitch Evie (Joyce Compton) found Stella's buckle outside of Gilmore's window, and she uses it to blackmail the teacher into passing her. He tells Stella that he will have to pass everyone to be fair, and he is concerned that his class will be seen as easy.

Evie also found Helen's letter and gave it to Faith. Helen is expected to win the scholastic prize and needs it to continue her scholarship. Stella goes to Faith and gets the letter. She goes with her to the committee and says the letter is hers and that she is leaving the college.

On the train Gil finds Stella and says that he is leaving too. He wants her to go to Malaya with him and says they are both savages.

This romantic comedy was directed by Dorothy Arzner, who used a fishing pole to keep the microphone from distracting nervous Bow. As a pioneering sound film it is somewhat uneven. Yet it portrays very well the liberated spirit of women at this time who want more freedom and experiences. Their frivolity is contrast to the serious concerns of Helen and the professor.

Copyright © 2006 by Sanderson Beck

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