Sally Trent has an illegitimate child, but cannot support her and gives the baby up for adoption. The father, Michael Gardner, leaves for China not knowing about the baby, and she assumes he has abandoned her for life. She gets a job as a torch singer, changes her name to Mimi Benton, and becomes notorious for her drinking and philadering. Mimi fills in on a children's radio program as the character "Aunt Jenny," singing and telling bedtime stories, and eventually uses the airtime to find her long lost daughter, part with her wild lifestyle, and reunite with Michael.
Claudette Colbert ... Sally Trent, aka Mimi Benton
Ricardo Cortez ... Tony Cummings
David Manners ... Michael 'Mike' Gardner
Lyda Roberti ... Dora Nichols
Baby LeRoy ... Bobby, Dora's Baby at 1 Year (as Baby Le Roy)
Charley Grapewin ... Andrew 'Juddy' Judson
Sam Godfrey ... Harry, Radio Announcer
Florence Roberts ... Mother Angelica
Virginia Hammond ... Mrs. Julia Judson
Mildred Washington ... Carrie, Mimi's Maid
Cora Sue Collins ... Sally at 5 Years
Helen Jerome Eddy ... Miss Spaulding
Albert Conti ... Carlotti
Ethel Griffies ... Agatha Alden
This 1933 Paramount film, is a sophisticated and greatly acted drama, with the Depression as background and a powerful performance by the great comedienne and actress, Claudette Colbert, as a chic "fallen" woman. I'd even dare to say that this one pleased me even more than that other favorite 1934 tearjerker, "Imitation Of Life".
Awesome Miss Colbert's costumes, designed by the best Hollywood costume designer of all time, Travis Banton, to "showcase" her "conversion", when she turns into the successful "Torch" Singer-Mimi Benton-of the Title.
Great performance by latin-named, but European born, Ricardo Cortez, as Miss Colbert's lover and mentor and a good one too by David Manners, as the rich guy, who "unwantedly" & "unknowingly" disgraced Miss Colbert's life.
Nice acting by beautiful Mildred Washington, who plays Miss Colbert's maid, and "punchy" Lyda Roberti, who plays an earthy woman who befriends Colbert in the beginning of the film. Ethel Griffies, gives a good "nasty" performance, as Manners' stiff-upper-lip, aristocratic, embittered aunt.
Mention apart deserves Charley Grapewin as the mischievous sponsor of Miss Colbert's Radio Show. He delivers some great lines!
I won't add anything more about the plot of the movie, 'cos you oughta watch it for yourselves! A must see for Pre-Code and 1930's film lovers!
The soap suds reach almost to the ceiling in "Torch Singer" but that's part of the fun. Claudette Colbert and the rest of the excellent cast have a grand old time as they work their way through the somewhat rusty plot. Colbert sings a couple of songs and wears some smashing gowns as she portrays a chorus girl with a heart of gold who's forced to give up her baby daughter and become a torch singer to earn a living in Depression-era New York. In no time at all she's the toast of the town, with a fancy apartment, a maid, and a boy friend who's a big radio executive. She covers up her need for her daughter by drinking, dancing and carrying on, and does it ever look like fun. But it all works out in the end, and with only minutes to spare.
Look for Lyda Roberti, the Polish bombshell in the first part of the movie as Colbert's friend and roommate. Roberti died tragically young, with only a few films to her credit, notably "The Kid From Spain " and "Million Dollar Legs," in which she played Mata Machree, The Woman No Man Can Resist. "Torch Singer" is kind of tame for a pre-Code feature but it's fun and well worth watching.
An unwed TORCH SINGER uses her children's radio show to search for her illegitimate daughter.
Claudette Colbert has a fine time in this Pre-Code melodrama playing a distraught female who covers up for the necessary separation from her child by embracing a life of empty decadence. While highly fanciful--the heroine is both sultry nightclub chanteuse and kindly kiddy radio hostess--the plot is still most enjoyable, with Colbert wringing every bit of pathos from her character's plight.
Ricardo Cortez plays the refreshingly decent producer who assists Colbert to become a celebrity. David Manners ably plays her long-lost lover. Peppery Lydia Roberti is most enjoyable as a high-spirited young mother; her character is sorely missed when she disappears early in the film. Old Charley Grapewin adds some spark as the flirtatious breakfast cereal tycoon who sponsors Miss Colbert's radio show.
A quartet of character actresses lend able support in small roles: Florence Roberts as a sympathetic nun; Virginia Hammond as Grapewin's suspicious wife; Mildred Washington as Miss Colbert's energetic maid; and aristocratic Ethel Griffies as Manners' inflexible aunt. Baby LeRoy, nemesis of W.C. Fields, appears in only one scene as Miss Roberti's infant son.
Movie mavens will recognize unbilled Scots actress Margaret Mann as a nanny.