Every girl dreams of finding a rich man that will love her unconditionally… well, let’s face it we dream about marrying a rich man for the money and if there is love well that is a bonus! Haha. Rich Man Poor Girl kind of takes the whole poor-girl-pining-for-the-rich-man- scenario and flips it around to the rich man pining for the poor girl.
Joan Thayer (Ruth Hussey) is secretary to Bill Harrison (Robert Young). She is going away on vacation for a few days. Bill tells her the office might as well close without her there she runs everything so smoothly. He offers to take her on vacation on his boat up the coast to his place where his sister is currently staying. Joan tells him thanks for the offer but she wants to go away in her own.
Joan’s cousin Henry (Lew Ayres), her sister Helen (Lana Turner), her parents, and brother go to see her off at the train station but she does not show up on time. She comes and tells everyone she is not ready to leave the office yet it is too busy at the moment.
Bill asks Joan to marrying him. He wants to get married that night. Joan agrees and she goes home to tell her family. Helen is excited and so are her parents. Henry hates authority and especially hates the idea of Joan marrying the boss. She tells them Bill is coming over to pick her up and to meet them. The house is totally crazy when Bill arrives but he likes every one of them. Joan has second thoughts about getting married in a hurry. She would love to run away with Bill but she loves her family. Joan decides to ease him into her family and her family to him. She wants to get to know him outside of the office.
The next day Bill talks to Joan’s mother. Her mother tells him how her husband came up to where she lived when they were young and slept in a spare room at her house. This story gives Bill the idea to stay their place to get used to them. Joan wants him to leave that night she thinks he thinks the whole thing is a joke. Bill tries to spend the night. It is hot and noisy for him in the small apartment. He leaves a note inviting them all out on his boat that afternoon. The entire family thinks Bill has a large yacht and get all dressed up. When they get to the dock they are disappointed to see he has a small sailboat.
The mother told Bill that Henry would love to go on an adventure. Bill sends Henry down to Brazil through a company. Henry is beyond thrilled and excited to be going down to Brazil. At his going away party Henry finds out the head of the company knows Bill. Now he does not want to take the job.
At work Bill asks Joan to give him reports on his accounts. Joan is upset he never came to their apartment. Later that night Bill’s sister Sally goes to see Joan. She tells the family that Bill is planning on giving up his money all because Henry talked to him about the middle class. The whole family is upset especially Helen because she does not want to stay where she is socially. Sally has the family come with her to her house she tells them it is important. They pull up to a big house. Bill comes out. The whole thing was a trick. He wanted to open a hardware place with Joan’s father and wants to send her brother to aviation school. Sally will take on Helen as a bit of a project. Bill gives Ma his sailboat since she had such a great time on it.
Joan is taken with Bill’s kindness and genuine love for her family.
I loved the cast. Ruth Hussey and Robert Young are such underrated actors. I liked them together. They looked like normal people. They were not the typical flashy screen stars of classic Hollywood at this time they were both just second tier actors. Both their characters had a good heart and were smart. I really liked how Joan did not throw herself at Bill she was smart and wanted to get to know her boss as more than a boss. And also how her family came first but did not run her life. I would want to be like Joan if I were to ever (never) be in her situation. Lana Turner was so unbelievably adorable I could not even take it. She was hilarious. Turner looked great with her natural brunette hair, I am not a fan of her platinum blonde hair she sported for the rest of her career. Lew Ayres’s character sounded like a communist. He hated authority and democracy. Henry was a good character I think he represented the feelings of most of America at the time.
Rich Man Poor Girl is a very cute and enjoyable film. It is not the best film any of the actors were in but they all did a fantastic job. Rich Man Poor Girl is not available to view on Youtube nor is it on DVD. I caught this on TCM quite a long time ago so keep an eye out for it on the channel.