Plot: Margie (Dorothy Mackaill) works as a model, but her personal life isn’t as glamorous as the high end clothes she showcases. When she is pursued by affluent Allen (Walter Byron), she resists his approaches at first, but she does dream of a better life, so she gives into his promises. She wants true love and romance, things Eddie assures her he can provide, not to mention his wealth can take care of her and of course, he has even talked about marriage. But she learns he was more bluster than truth, so under less than ideal circumstances, the relationship ends. As she tries to get her life on track, she crosses paths with Eddie (Conrad Nagel), an artist who has an instant interest in her, but she is hesitant to engage. Has her past prepared her to avoid heartbreak this time or it is holding her back from true love?
Entertainment Value: This turns out to be a solid pre-code morality tale, though the cast proves to be of more interest than the story or generation production elements. But to be fair, when Dorothy Mackaill and Joan Blondell are involved, it is easy to overlook the less impressive aspects of The Reckless Hour. The movie runs under just over 70 minutes, but weaves in a good amount of narrative, following both the romantic entanglements of Mackaill’s Margie and her family drama. I didn’t have any real issues with how the story develops and plays out, as it held my attention and the performances help balance out the weaker narrative moments. I wish it was a little snappier in places and perhaps sharper in how it handles the social commentary, but it is a more than competent story, if a familiar one. The brisk pace helps a lot as well and while a lot is packed into the compact run time, things don’t feel rushed or unfinished. This film has pre-code punch as well, with an unwanted pregnancy thread, romantic woes, and Blondell’s Myrtle is quite a character all around. So while it might not rank as an all time classic, The Reckless Hour has more than enough positives to recommend it, especially for fans of Mackaill and Blondell.
If you can’t tell from the above, the main draw of the movie for me was the cast and this is an interesting ensemble. As always, Dorothy Mackaill is a reliable performer and brings immense charm to her role, especially in her sharp banter and more lightly comic moments. I think she more than delivers in the dramatic scenes, as she has a way of conveying inner emotional pain that is so effective. That is a skill she calls on here and to good ends, as her presence adds a lot to The Reckless Hour and anchors the movie like a true lead should. But as usual, Joan Blondell is able to steal the movie and that is through no fault of Mackaill’s, as Blondell is just fiery here and her charisma shines so bright, you can’t help but wish she was around more. I also just love the dynamic between Blondell and Mackaill, there is a certain magic when the two share a scene. The cast also includes Helen Ware, H.B. Warner, Dorothy Peterson, Conrad Nagel, and Joe Donahue, so this is a talented group gathered here.