Shopworn (1932)


Barbara Stanwyck plays a poor waitress who falls in love with a rich man (Regis Toomey), but his mother (Clara Blandick) is determined to keep the two apart. She even goes so far as to have a judge arrest her on a phony morals charge and send her to ninety-day reform program! Once she’s released, Stanwyck starts a new life and becomes a infamous broadway dancer. Years later, Toomey re-enters her life and confesses his love — but what about dear old mum?

Barbara Stanwyck is terrific as usual, especially when she’s swatting off suitors from behind the diner counter. One man asks her what she’s doing later. She asks, “Is that a proposition?” He says, “Sure!” She gives her trademark sly glance, then presses a button that pops a “No Sale” sign from the top of the register. Unfortunately, Shopworn is not one of her more memorable pictures. She and Toomey have a few moments of witty banter, but Toomey is less effective with the other cast members — downright wooden, even. The first half of the movie works much better than the second. Stanwyck’s becoming a Broadway sensation sets off a jarring turn of events that feel like a different movie, and the climactic showdown between Stanwyck and Blandick needs to be more explosive than reconciliatory.

With Zasu Pitts and Lucien Littlefield.