Public Deb No. 1 (1940)

Genres - Comedy  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Communism-the American variety-is given a hilarious going-over in 20th Century-Fox's Public Deb No. 1. Spoiled society girl Penny Cooper (Brenda Joyce) impulsively lends her voice to a Communist rally, which earns her a public spanking by 100% All-American waiter Alan Blake (George Murphy). Impressed by Blake's boldness, Penny's ulcerated father, soup tycoon Millburn Cooper (Charlie Ruggles), hires the young man as a vice-president, hoping in this way to keep his daughter in line. Murphy manages to win Joyce from her socialite boyfriend Bruce Fairchild (who else but Ralph Bellamy?), but she refuses to abandon her Communist ideology until she is disillusioned by Russia's invasion of Finland. The heroine's rejection of the Red cause is symbolized by an (implicit) act of defecation performed by a passing dog on a crumpled Communist pamphlet. When originally released, the film was titled Elsa Maxwell's Public Deb No. 1, in recognition of the presence in the cast of famed New York social arbiter and partygiver Elsa Maxwell, who in the film's silliest scene shows up at a costume party dressed as Benjamin Franklin!