This early sound film follows the story of prostitute Kay (Stanwyck) who falls for WASP painter Jerry (Graves) and their struggle to love despite their class difference.
Fun fact: There is a sound and a silent version of this film (characteristic of this transitional period in film history), but whether with or without spoken dialogue, both versions highlight Joseph Walker’s gorgeous cinematography.
- Big Heroic Run: Dot (Marie Prevost) runs up several flights of stairs to let Jerry know Kay has run away with Bill.
- Break His Heart to Save Him: Jerry’s mother convinces Kay that she should break off her relationship in the kindest way possible. Kay opts for not telling him that she’s going to Havana with Bill.
- Bungled Suicide: The idea of being Bill’s “party-girl” and leaving Jerry for good, leaves Kay with only one choice (in her mind, anyways). She jumps off starboard but is saved by the crew.
- Dating What Daddy Hates: Kay, a former prostitute, is not worthy for the extremely rich and WASP-y Strongs.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Once Jerry treats Kay like a human rather than an object, she lets her tough girl façade down.
- Disposable Fiancé: Jerry’s got one, and she conveniently disappears after a second scene.
- Driven to Suicide: While breaking his heart, Kay thinks suicide is the only answer to her troubles.
- Epic Tracking Shot: Epic for the early sound film era. The film begins with bottles smashing on pavement. The camera then pans up a building to reveal a party. Slowly, it zooms on the drunken revelers who were throwing the bottles and follows them throughout the party.
- Family Business: The Strongs deal with railway constructions.
- Fat Best Friend: The Big Fun variety with dashes of The Ditz for Dot, who may not be the brightest but is fiercely loyal to Kay.
- Heaven Above: Jerry’s painting is titled “Hope” and when he and Kay admire the stars together, they finally achieve the look he’s been wanting for his portrait.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Kay describes herself as a “party-girl” but that’s code for prostitute, through and through.
- Match Cut: The sophisticated tea of the Strongs is match cut with the practical hot coffee (sustenance for a long night out, no doubt) for Kay and Dot.
- My Own Private "I Do": Given that Jerry’s parents don’t approve of their upcoming marriage, Jerry and Kay decide to run away together to Arizona because Jerry is keen on the state.
- Secret Test of Character: Kay, decides not to steal from Jerry who gave her a lift home. And for his test, Jerry doesn’t try to take advantage of Kay when she stays the night at his studio.
- Uptown Girl: Kay is the poor girl who falls for the rich Jerry.