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Finishing School

(1934 b 73')

En: 4 Ed: 5

Rich girls break the rules of a finishing school, revealing its hypocrisy of concern for appearances while ignoring substance.

Crockett Hall supervisor Miss Van Alstyn (Beulah Bondi) explains to new girl Virginia Radcliffe (Frances Dee) and her mother (Billie Burke) about their uniforms and rules - no lipstick, no smoking, and no drinking. Her roommate Pony (Ginger Rogers) offers Virginia a cigarette. Virginia asks Madeline not to open a bottle and then breaks it. Yet she refuses to turn in a note that is being passed. Virginia gets away with Pony and her "Aunt." They check into a hotel and meet Chuck and Bill. Virginia wants to get tight. Bill is drunk, and waiter Ralph MacFarland (Bruce Cabot) knocks him out. Mac takes care of drunk Virginia and drives her back to the hall. He is also a medical intern. Virginia says she left a party, but Van Alstyn objects to her coming in at that time.

Virginia visits Mac at the children's hospital during an opera trip. When Virginia invites him to a tea, Van Alstyn has Mac told they are "not at home" to him. Virginia asks a man an embarrassing question and loses her privileges. During Christmas Van Alstyn won't let Virginia go with Pony. Virginia gets a $1,000 check and a mink coat but is more pleased when Mac gives her handkerchiefs with her name on them. She cries and feels in a muddle, asking him if she is good. He reassures her. Virginia calls her mother and wants to go shopping. She goes to the hospital but is told Mac is busy. She tells her mother that she wants to leave Crockett Hall. Mrs. Radcliffe calls Mac a waiter and hopes she'll get over him; but Virginia's father (John Halliday) says a college would have more value and tells Virginia to do what she wants.

Miss Van Alstyn has been destroying attempted correspondence between Mac and Virginia, causing the latter to despair. Pony calls Mac, while Virginia hears a lecture about Anna Karenina's suicide. Van Alstyn sends Virginia to the infirmary, calls her cheap and vulgar, and says she has disgraced the school. Mrs. Radcliffe comes in and is worried about what people will think. Virginia runs out and meets Mac, who comforts her. He laughs at Miss Van Alstyn and the school. He tells Mr. Radcliffe that he is marrying his daughter, and he gives Mac a cigar.

This drama satirizes the superficiality of learning proper manners while not allowing young women the freedom to learn from their experiences. Pony is determined to have a good time, while Virginia is able to overcome the obstacles placed between her and a good relationship.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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