“Trottie True” (1949)
“Trottie True” (stupidly retitled for U.S. distribution as “The Gay Lady”) is a colorful not quite rags to riches story (more like a tale of working class to upper crust ascendancy) embellished with song and dance, all in the service of the not too original message that money and prestige don’t necessarily lead to happiness, though they certainly can be tangible inducements when genuine affection makes a happy intrusion as part of the overall equation.
Though there would appear to be little in the film that hasn’t been done before- the parade of noble working class stiffs who carry on with a chipper optimism that might make Betty Hutton blush; sympathetic and subtly fun loving servants; a ruling class whose armor of superiority (easily distinguished by the timely placement of an arched eyebrow) can be effortlessly thawed with a coquettish flash of dimple and a cheery song -it all works to a surprising degree, in no small part due to the film’s stubborn refusal to capitulate to the seeds of melodramatic discord simmering just beneath the movie’s sunny surface. There is a charm to the film that is not only undeniable but infectious, though it a charm easily won without the challenge of dramatic material which honestly addresses the real issues of class and sexual politics that are put to use as topical backdrops. Not unlike most musical features, any weight relevant to its subject is insubstantial by design.
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