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The Easiest Way

(1931 b 74')

En: 4 Ed: 5

Based on Eugene Walter's play about call girls, Hays Office censors tamed the story of a poor girl, who becomes the mistress of an advertising executive.

A poor family in a tenement has three teenage girls sleeping in one bed. Nick (Clark Gable) delivers clean shirts to the father, who doesn't work as much as others wish he would. Nick and Peg (Anita Page) are planning to marry; but Laura (Constance Bennett) won't marry Chris, because he's too poor. Working as a clerk, she gets hired as a model for an advertising agency. Her boss Walter Brockton (Adolphe Menjou) asks about her personal life, buys her things, and offers to take care of her. Soon she is paying her family's rent and giving her father money. Laura visits Peg and her baby, giving her a dress; but Nick tells Peg to give it back and criticizes what Laura is doing.

Laura has been traveling with Brockton even though he does not want to marry. He leaves her for a week with a couple in Colorado Springs, where she meets Jack Madison (Robert Montgomery). He is a newspaperman recovering from a gay life, bootleg, and cigarettes. Jack tells Laura he loves her; but he is going to Argentina to cover a revolution. She tells Jack she is through with Brockton and gives back the jewelry, though Brockton says she is addicted to luxury.

Laura returns to her New York hotel bill. When her father visits, she tells him he had better work. Her mother is sick and needs a stomach specialist; so Laura gives her father a fur to pawn. Her friend Elsie, who lives well off a "sugar-daddy" visits to find Laura is working at Macy's and is asking her for money; Elsie gets angry and leaves. The mother has died, and Laura cannot get back into her room without paying the bill. She calls Brockton and asks for a loan. He won't loan her anything; but he will take her back if she promises to write Jack about it.

A couple weeks later Jack returns and arranges to visit Laura. Brockton discovers she did not write Jack. Elsie's man had a stroke, and she asks to borrow from Laura, who gives her a jewel. Elsie tells Laura to get married quick without telling Jack what happened. Jack comes in and says they're going to Russia and can get married. Then Brockton comes in, and Jack learns that Laura went back to him. She explains why, but he goes out to get drunk. Brockton offers to take care of her, but she leaves. Laura goes to Peg's at Christmas, and Nick invites her in and gives her hope that Jack will come back to her.

What seemed an easy way for Laura in the short-term had consequences she did not expect. Yet her generosity and family will probably help her to find her proper place. This film reveals common problems experienced because of how some men are and what women will do to meet economic pressures.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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