Plot: Ruth (Nancy Carroll) lives in a small town and has a simple job as a bank clerk, but she soon finds herself the center of the town’s attention. She knows all too well that the locals love gossip and consider it a treasured past time, but she has been able to evade being the subject of the rumors to this point. A popular focus of the gossip is Romer (Cary Grant), a local man with immense wealth and good looks, who lives in a lush estate right on the lakefront. After her date gets a little too handsy, Ruth bails out of a boat on that same lake and finds herself ashore on Romer’s estate. The two strike up an instant connection, Romer punches out her rude date, and Ruth is returned home in his plush limousine. Soon enough, the gossip is set into motion, but how much of an impact can a few rumors have on Ruth’s life?
Entertainment Value: While not as scandalous as some pre-code movies, Hot Saturday has some spice and above all else, is a solid movie that tells an interesting narrative with a talented cast. A lot of movies have used gossip as almost a character in itself and that is the case here, as it twists several threads in all kinds of directions, with Ruth bearing the brunt of them all. I do think her decision to remain quiet at first makes little sense, but it is necessary to allow the rest of the tumblers to fall into place, so once you suspend your disbelief on that, the rest cascades into place well. The way things spiral out of hand is a lot of fun to watch here and the movie is able to pull off a more than satisfying finale, which can be tough in this kind of narrative. A melodrama vibe runs through the movie, but it is reined in just enough to keep it from going too over the top, while also letting the drama flow like wine. There’s also threads of genuine romance in Hot Saturday, which helps the narrative hold attention and keep some stakes involved. In the end, this might not be as memorable or risque as some of pre-code’s true classics, but it is a fun, brisk watch with a terrific cast.
This was one of his earlier movies, but Cary Grant shows his charm and leading man potential in spades here. His charisma is so natural and effortless, bolstered by his role as a rich, winsome playboy who shows enough heart to keep him likable, but not enough to lose his roguish appeal. He’s not the lead here, but he has a good amount of screen time and is given plenty of chances to shine. Nancy Carroll has the central role and he is quite good as well, playing the role in a grounded, believable way that still manages to entertain. She could have easily gone over the top or veered into campiness, but she wisely avoids those pitfalls and delivers a tremendous performance. That cast here also includes Lilian Bond, Randolph Scott, Edwards Woods, Rita La Roy, and the always fun to watch Grady Sutton.