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Film / Loose Ankles

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Loose Ankles is a 1930 film directed by Ted Wilde.

Loretta Young (who was only sixteen at the time) plays Ann Berry, a wealthy socialite. She is about to get richer, as her grandma Flora Berry has just died and the whole clan has gathered together for the reading of the will. The will reveals that Grandma left most of her substantial fortune to Ann, but because this is a movie there's a catch. Ann cannot get the money until she is married. And she only gets the money if she marries someone that her maternal uncle and aunts, Major Harper and his sisters Sarah and Katherine, approve of. And no one else in the family collects on their inheritances until Ann enters into an approved marriage. And if that weren't enough, Ann loses the money if she ever gets into any "scandal" or compromising position that draws negative public attention on her.

Ann, being the sort who won't take orders from a dead grandma, and also clearly not needing the money, sets out to create a scandal that will nullify the will. Enter Gil (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.), who is working as a male prostitute—uh, "professional escort". Gil answers Ann's "Male Hooker Wanted" ad and meets her at her apartment. Ann has already called the reporters, but it doesn't take long in the presence of handsome, bashful Gil for her to have second thoughts.


  • Actually, I Am Him: Gil's male hooker buddies Andy and Terry try to gate-crash at the Circus Club by telling the guy in the lobby that the owner, Mr. Morgan, invited him. The owner identifies himself as Mr. Morgan and gives them the boot.
  • Alcohol Hic: Aunt Sarah does this when she gets really drunk on the spiked punch.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Someone calls Aunt Katherine a "lavender woman", which is code for "lesbian". Both the Maiden Aunts have a sort of old lesbian vibe about them, although the way that Sarah crawls all over one of Gil's male prostitute buddies seems to indicate that she's straight.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The opening scene features a woman who turns out to be Ann sticking out a smooth, bare leg, while a man reaches from out of frame and touches her bare foot. It plays like fetish, but actually the man is giving her a pedicure.
  • Bathtub Scene: The first scene with the male prostitutes starts with a tight closeup of Andy's bare chest, as he relaxes in the bathtub.
  • Double Entendre: Ann's ad specifies she's looking for a man who is "unscrupulous", and after Gil shows up she asks him about getting her in a "compromising situation."
    Ann: Have you been compromised before? What kind of compromising do you specialize in, plain or fancy?
  • Going by the Matchbook: Gil leaves his friend's coat behind as he makes his hasty exit from Ann's house. Ann doesn't know how to contact him, but there is a ticket to the "Circus Club" (actually a fancy speakeasy), so she goes there in hopes of meeting him again.
  • High-Class Call Girl: Gender-swapped, and they're, uh, "professional escorts". Gil's roommates, who have more experience being man-whores, think Gil is too shy to make it. Sure enough he freezes up when Ann tries to seduce him.
  • Inadvertent Entrance Cue: After deciding to go to the Circus Club to find Gil, Ann says "I wonder who will take us?" (The club is invitation-only.) Cue the butler announcing "a Mr. Harper who claims to be a relative," but who is actually Lint, Gil's weaselly rival in the male prostitute business.
  • Intoxication Ensues: Andy and Terry get into the Circus Club by tagging along with the Maiden Aunts Sarah and Katherine. The boys then order punch, which, unbeknownst to Sarah and Katherine, is heavily spiked. The two starchy old ladies get completely hammered over the course of the evening.
  • Maiden Aunt: Two of them in the persons of Ann's aunts Sarah and Katherine, who are strict and severe and go around with perma-frowns on their faces.
  • Leg Focus: In a Fanservice shot that was typical of The Pre-Code Era, the first shot shows Ann's smooth, shapely calves, on display as she sits in a chair.
  • Meaningful Appearance: A skunk stripe in her hair is combined with glasses to let the audience know that Aunt Sarah is a sour old prude.
  • Meet Cute: Gil is a reluctant male prostitute whom Ann summons to her home for the express purpose of creating a sex scandal.
  • On One Condition: Grandma Berry's will actually has a couple of conditions. There's the condition that Ann gets the money only when she's married to someone her uncle and aunts approve of (maybe enforceable?), and the condition that she loses the money if she's involved in a scandal (completely unenforceable, although everyone in the movie takes it seriously).
  • Right Behind Me: After the gang has escaped from the police raid, Sarah complains about "those bold, bad, vicious, awful policemen", while a cop stands right behind her with his hands on his hips. After she sees him, they run for it.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: A random gag has one of the couples arriving for the reading of the will be a man who's about five feet tall and a woman who's over a foot taller than he is.
  • Title Drop: Ann's vivacious friend Betty sings a song called "Loose Ankles" that is supposedly about dancing but is really an extended Double Entendre.
    Betty: When music's good and hot/I start to sway a lot/And all because I've got loose ankles.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: Why do reporters care whom Ann Berry is dating?