Synopsis by Janiss Garza
Jack Conway complained about being assigned to direct this comedy, claiming that a woman like the title character had almost ruined his own marriage. In a way he had a point , but only Jean Harlow could have made gold digger Lil Andrews a sympathetic protagonist. And Katherine Brush's racy novel (which first appeared, serial-fashion, in the Saturday Evening Post) could only have been filmed in the pre-Code days of the early 1930s. Helping both star and story is the snappy dialogue written by Anita Loos. Lil is the classic girl "from the wrong side of the tracks" -- she's a secretary with a bootlegger boyfriend and a wisecracking roommate named Sal (Una Merkel, who was a delightful foil to Harlow in several films). But Lil has ambitions -- she's "strictly on the level, like a flight of stairs," as one character says. She plans to snag Bill Legendre (Chester Morris), son of the venerable company head (Lewis Stone) -- no matter that he's happily married to his childhood sweetheart, Irene (Leila Hyams). Lil throws herself at Legendre until he can resist no longer and she snares him. But things don't work out as planned. Instead of making a big splash in society, she bombs -- so she casts her attention ever upwards to Gaersate, a coal king (Henry Stephenson). But a wrench is thrown into her scheme when she goes mad for his French chauffeur (Charles Boyer). "I've fallen in love and I'm going to be married!" she gleefully tells Sal, before explaining that it's the chauffeur she loves and Gaersate whom she will marry. However, Legendre Sr. has put a detective on Lil's trail and he shows Gaersate a handful of compromising photos. It looks like her game is up, but the last we see of the mercenary miss, she's leaving a fashionable Paris racetrack with a bearded old sugar daddy -- and her beloved chauffeur driving them away. In spite of all her blatant manipulations, Harlow gives Lil a childlike appeal, which makes her actions nearly forgivable (it also helps that the men are such dolts). But not everyone was able to accept a movie bad-girl who did not pay for her sins and, in fact, actually benefited from them -- the film was banned in Germany and England. It may not have gotten much play in France either, but certainly not because of Lil's wantonness. Charles Boyer, who was a star in his native country, was embarrassed at his failure to make a splash in America and didn't want his fellow Frenchmen to see him play a tiny bit-part. Depending on the source, he reportedly convinced MGM to either 1) release the film in France with his parts edited out (which would have made it quite confusing) or 2) not release the film there at all.
boss [employer], chauffeur, divorce, extramarital-affair, femme-fatale, golddigger, immorality, promiscuity, scandal, secretary, seduction, social-climber, upward-mobility