Girls Can Play

with Jacqueline Wells in Girls Can Play A Columbia Picture (1937)

Executive Producer: Irving Briskin
Associate Producer: Ralph Cohn
Director: Lambert Hillyer

Screenplay: Ernest Pascal,
from story by Albert DeMond

Jacqueline Wells as Ann Casey
Charles Quigley as Jimmy Jones
Rita Hayworth as Sue Collins
John Gallaudet as Foy Harris
George McKay as Sluggy
Patricia Farr as "Peanuts"

Women's costumes by Kalloch

Black and White, 59 mins. running time

Rita's second film assignment after landing a seven-year contract with Columbia Pictures was Girls Can Play. It's original title had been Miss Casey at Bat. She starred alongside Charles Quigley, Jacqueline Wells (later renamed Julie Bishop) and John Gallaudet, as her unlikely lover.

The Hollywood Post's sports writer, Jimmy Jones (Charles Quigley), yearns to be a crime reporter, and thus looks for foul play on even the most routine assignments. In writing a piece about a girl's softball team, Jimmy discovers that their sponsor, Foy Harris (John Gallaudet), is a notorious racketeer who has supposedly gone straight. Jimmy suspects Foy is still up to no good. He begins hanging around the team to do a bit of snooping, and also to be near the cute new pitcher, Ann Casey (Jacqueline Wells).

Foy is indeed still crooked -now operating a counterfeit liquor racket. The only person not involved in his dealings who knows the scoop on him is his girlfriend, Sue Collins (Rita Hayworth), captain of the softball team. Foy's former partner (now an enemy) is out to get him, but Foy bumps him off first. Sue knows this too. Foy decides she now knows too much and begins plotting to get rid of her. He spreads a rumor that she is ill and about to take an extended "trip" for a rest. Jimmy finds out that the murdered man was once Foy's partner. He needs only a little more evidence to present a solid case to the police, with whom he is now working in his investigation.

Sue realizes that she is in danger, and also that Foy is a criminal who must be stopped, so she decides to go to the police. But before she can do so, Foy rigs her catcher's mitt to give her a poison injection that strikes her dead on the baseball diamond. Both Ann and Jimmy knew that she was about to spill Foy's story. Jimmy and the authorities do not buy Foy's fabrication that Sue had a "weak heart." After an autopsy reveals she was murdered, they are off to arrest Foy, who is preparing to skip town. Ann's own snooping lands her in the murderer's clutches. Jimmy swoops in and saves her in the nick of time. Foy is apprehended. Jimmy becomes the newspaper's new crime reporter, and Ann becomes his bride.

Girls Can Play features a most implausible plot. Its main asset is Rita, who looks natural in her role as a softball player, although you would not normally think of Rita Hayworth as an athletic type. She looks and sounds more her age in the film. She was still a teenager at this time, but would usually play more sophisticated characters in spite of her age.

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