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Film / Aggie Appleby, Maker of Men

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Aggie Appleby, Maker of Men (1933) is a pre-Code romantic comedy film directed by Mark Sandrich, starring Charles Farrell, Wynne Gibson, William Gargan, and ZaSu Pitts.

Aggie (Gibson), a New York City waitress, meets the mild-mannered Adoniram Schlump (Farrell) and sets about remolding him into the image of her tough but imprisoned boyfriend, Red Branahan (Gargan). But she soon realizes that her Pygmalion-like ploy isn't working out exactly as she intended.

This film shows the following tropes:

  • Bittersweet Ending: Although in love with Schlumpy, Aggie decides to stay with Red because the class divide between her and Schlumpy is too great.
  • Break His Heart to Save Him: Aggie knows that she and Schlumpy would never work as a couple, so she pretends to be married to Red so Schlumpy can be with his fiancé who likes that he's acquire a backbone.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: With a name like Adoniram Schlump, "Schlumpy" is a better alternative even if it's still embarrassing.
    • Aggie isn't a big fan of her nickname and likes it when Schlumpy calls her Agnes.
  • Extreme Doormat: Schumply is ruled by his aunt Katherine and is mild-mannered to an doormat extreme, but with Aggie’s help, he finally grows a spine.
  • The Glasses Gotta Go: Although he doesn’t need them and he’s actually Tall, Dark, and Handsome without them, Schlumpy wears his Nerd Glasses. Aggie promptly throws them out a window.
  • Grew a Spine: Aggie helps Schlumpy stand up for himself and be a little tougher.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Red.
  • Love Triangle: Aggie finds herself in love with both Red and Schlumpy as they both offer her deeply different, but interesting variants of men.
  • Lingerie Scene: Aggie changes out of her clothes, not minding that Schlumpy is around and this almost gives him a heart attack.
  • Men Are Tough: Red embodies the 1930s view of manhood while Schlumpy is more sensitive and introspective. Aggie realizes that too much of either is no good. So she toughens up Schlumpy enough so he won’t be an extreme doormat and softens up Red so he can be less of a sleazeball.
  • My Beloved Smother: It’s Sclumpy’s aunt but she has the same function.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Sid (Pitts) Aggie’s best friend is full of crazy one-liners like:
    At this rate, Mae West will have to come up and see me some time!
  • Pygmalion Plot: Gender-Inverted: Aggie “creates” Schlumpy into a tough guy and a fighter, but she realizes that she doesn’t really like these qualities.
  • Tame His Anger: At the end, Aggie decides to tone down Red’s intensity to make him a better man.
  • Teach Him Anger: On the other hand, Aggie teaches Schlumpy how to stand up for himself.
  • Uptown Girl: Aggie is a working-class girl and Sclumpy grew up in the opulence of New Englanders. They, however, don’t end up together.