PRIDE: Millie

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Naively married young and subsequently scorned by an unfaithful husband, the titular firecracker Millie finds refuge in heady PRIDE, cultivating an independence that’s both exceptional and steeped in charisma. In the wake of divorce, determined to become a working woman and support herself, Millie—played by a coy Helen Twelvetrees—gives up her lavish life as a New York City housewife draped in silk kimonos for a job at a hotel. Despite a regretful separation from her young daughter (who is provided for by the comforts of her ex-husband’s cushy home), proto-feminist Millie makes her own way, all the while accumulating admirers. Bemused by her staunch independence, men joke about her refusal to let one of them simply take care of her, with banter that reveals a darker desire to control and subdue independent and spirited women by safely confining them inside the home. But the strong-willed and red-headed Millie (her hair color is charmingly worked into the script, as the film was shot in black and white) never cedes to the men around her, even as the film approaches an ominous climax.

Dir. John Frances Dillon, 1931, 16mm (Courtesy of BFI), 85 min.