Review: Early Superstar Nancy Carroll Owns 'Hot Saturday,' Now on Blu-Ray

by Frank J. Avella

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday October 26, 2021

"Hot Saturday" is a one of those ballsy, near-lost pre-code motion pictures that deserves to be rediscovered and enjoyed.

The film's big-name star is Cary Grant, who is super charming in one of his first roles, but the film's true star is Nancy Carroll, who had tremendous screen presence, great comic timing, and knew just when to be coy and when to turn on the sex appeal. So why isn't she mentioned in the same breath as contemporaries such as Mae West or Claudette Colbert? More on that later.

This gem is also notable for the appearance of both Grant and his alleged sig-other of many years, Randolph Scott, although there is no overt flirting. Not between the two men, anyway.

The narrative centers on Ruth (Carroll), who lives in the small town of Marysville, where everyone knows everyone's business and the local youth do the same thing each weekend. Enter scandalous Romer (Grant), who has the audacity to be keeping a woman at his summer lake house. That is, until he spots Ruth, who ends up spending the night at that lake house — nothing happens, of course, but it's too late. The glee with which the ladies of the town (and the young boys, as well) set out to ruin a reputation is hard to fathom — oh, wait, no it isn't: Think cancel culture, today!

Silly title notwithstanding, "Hot Saturday" has quite a bit to say about gossip and scandal and small-town suffocation, as well as just how disgusting boys behave when they don't get what they want from girls (one of Ruth's suitor's tries to assault her).

Ruth's own mother (a very mean Jane Darwell) is more interested in Ruth's reputation and making certain she finds a rich husband than her daughter's welfare.

Scott is very green in this film. But he has heart!

But it's Carroll's movie, and she runs with it, giving us a glimpse of what the "woman's picture's" of the '40s would look like. She made her film debut in 1927 and worked non-stop, receiving an Oscar nomination in 1930 for "The Devil's Holiday." It's said she was not happy with the parts Paramount forced her to play and, despite being incredibly popular (in the early '30s she received more fan mail than any other star according to IMDB), she was let go from the studio and never made a comeback. Cinema's loss.

The Blu-ray visuals overall are stunning, with some slight fuzziness. And the sound is quite clear, especially for such an early talkie.

The audio commentary by film historian Lee Gambin mostly focuses on what is going on in the film, along with providing some historical context, and doesn't give a great deal of career background.

Do yourself a favor and screen "Hot Saturday" to see a once-genuine superstar, Nancy Carroll, at her peak, before her sad slip into oblivion.

Blu-ray Extras Include:

  • New Audio Commentary by Author/Film Historian Lee Gambin
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Optional English Subtitles


    "Hot Saturday" is available on Blu-ray on October 26, 2021

    Frank J. Avella is a film and theatre journalist and is thrilled to be writing for EDGE. He also contributes to Awards Daily and is the GALECA East Coast Rep. Frank is a recipient of a 2019 International Writers Retreat Residency at Arte Studio Ginestrelle (Assisi, Italy), a 2018 Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, a 2016 Helene Wurlitzer Residency Grant and a 2015 NJ State Arts Council Fellowship Award. He is an award-winning screenwriter and playwright (CONSENT, LURED, SCREW THE COW, FIG JAM, VATICAN FALLS) and a proud member of the Dramatists Guild. https://filmfreeway.com/FrankAvella https://muckrack.com/fjaklute