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Film / Bad Girl

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Bad Girl is a 1931 film directed by Frank Borzage.

It is a study of the humble working class in New York. Dorothy (Sally Eilers) is a floor model at a department store. One day she meets Eddie on the ferry back from Coney Island, and after some introductory sniping they hit it off. Eddie's an ambitious young radio salesman who has ambitions of opening his own radio shop. Soon they are married, and Dorothy is pregnant. However, the stress of making ends meet during The Great Depression puts strain on their relationship.

Won Borzage his second Academy Award for Best Director.


  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: Dorothy and Edna talk at length about how men are always hitting on them and harassing them. But when they encounter Eddie on the ferry and he shows no interest in either of them they get irritated, and place a bet on who can get him to talk first.
  • Brick Joke: Edna's little brother Floyd is wreaking havoc in the kitchen, dumping ink in the milk, dumping all the butter in the pan. An exhausted Edna tells him to go in the hallway and ruin the wallpaper, and Floyd says "You want me to cut it off with a knife?" At the end of the scene after Eddie shows up and takes Dorothy away, Edna finds Floyd in the hallway, slicing up the wallpaper.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Eddie is uncomfortable with "all that mush stuff", so instead of telling Dorothy he loves her, he says "a guy could have a worse wife than you."
  • Fake-Out Opening: Dorothy is getting assisted with putting on a wedding dress. She chatters about how she's nervous. "Here Comes the Bride" plays. She steps out...and joins a line of women in wedding dresses, who are walking through people at dinner tables. She's modeling wedding dresses in a department store.
  • Gift of the Magi Plot: Dorothy wants Eddie to get his radio store, but she's just found out she's pregnant. She's hesitant to tell Eddie about being pregnant because Eddie has a habit of ranting about irresponsible people who bring babies into the world and can't pay for them. So she tells Eddie that she wants to go back to work, thinking then they can afford the radio store and the baby. Eddie takes this to mean that she's not satisfied with living in their little studio. So he spends all the money saved up for the radio store on a fancier house.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    • A volley of insults between Dorothy and Eddie on the ferry ends with Eddie yelling "I wouldn't be caught dead with you!" Cut to Eddie and Dorothy holding hands at her apartment building, after he's seen her home.
    • Dorothy says Eddie "doesn't like children." Cut to Eddie paying "cootchie-coo" with a baby at the department store.
  • Kitchen Sink Drama: The working class in 1931 New York struggling to get by.
  • Lohengrin and Mendelssohn: Played for a gag at the start of the movie, when it appears that Dorothy is getting married, but she's really only modeling wedding dresses.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The source of all of Eddie and Dorothy's problems. Dorothy delays telling Eddie she's pregnant. Dorothy thinks Eddie doesn't want the baby. Eddie thinks Dorothy doesn't want the baby. Dorothy doesn't tell Eddie that she wants to go back to work to save up baby money. Dorothy assumes the worst when Eddie comes back from a mysterious outing with his face busted up, thinking he got roughed up in a speakeasy—Eddie doesn't tell her that he entered a prizefighting competition to raise money for the baby.
  • Quitting to Get Married: Eddie reacts very badly when Dorothy reveals that she wants to go back to work.
  • Running Gag: Edna actually likes Eddie, but she also likes needling him and driving him up the wall. In one scene she needles Eddie about doing the dishes, and when he stalks away, says with all sincerity "Swell guy."
  • Tempting Fate: "That'll never happen to us" says Dorothy, when the angry squabbling couple in the tenement interrupts their happy talk.
  • Wedding Bells... for Someone Else: The Fake-Out Opening has Dorothy putting on a wedding dress and walking out to "Here Comes the Bride", only for the next shot to reveal that she is modeling a dress in a store.