MGM studios released two films with Robert Taylor early in 1935. Society Doctor, starring Chester Morris, Virginia Bruce and Robert Taylor premiered in January. Times Square Lady followed in March, starring Robert Taylor. Virginia Bruce and Pinky Tomlin. Lady is a solid gangster film, with a strong cast backing Taylor and Bruce. Isabel Jewell is Bruce’s wise-cracking sidekick, Nat Pendleton is his valet, Helen Twelvetrees his girl. The rest of the cast consists mostly of a wonderfully slimy bunch of crooks played by Jack Kramer, Henry Kolker, Raymond Hatton, Russell Hopton, Fred Kohler and Robert Elliott.
The plot is fairly straightforward. A wealthy promoter dies and his shady underlings assume they will take over his considerable holdings. To their surprise, the deceased had a daughter (Bruce) who is his sole heir. With a paternalism bordering on contempt, they plan to report to her that there is no money for her to inherit but they will take his properties off her hands for a fraction of their worth.
To convince her to sell, the crooks stage some incidents to demonstrate how bad it all is. Gang member Robert Taylor is assigned to charm the lady out of her holdings. Taylor manages a nightclub and this introduces a subplot involving singer/songwriter Pinky Tomlin, creator of such songs as “The Object of My Affection” and “What’s the Reason (I’m Not Pleasin’ You?).
Taylor frequently played dubious characters who find redemption in such films as “Rogue Cop” and “Johnny Eager.” Here he is saved by his love for Miss Bruce’s character. As happened not infrequently they were also a couple off screen.
The last quarter of the film is filled with action, car chases, fights, shootings and a lot of double crossing. The film moves quickly and benefits from comic relief by Tomlin, Pendleton and a cow named either Daisy or Bossy.
Robert Taylor is very young and very thin. The physical differences between the Taylor of Times Square Lady (filmed late 1934) and His Brother’s Wife (filmed in 1936) are striking. Nonetheless he is effective here, combining toughness with energy and humor. Bruce and Taylor have good chemistry together. The film was generally well received in its day, with the New York Times calling it “a bit of light divertissement.” Review by me for the IMDB.