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The-shopworn-angel-1938This was the third filmed version of the Saturday Evening Post short story, Pettigrew’s Girl by Dana Burnet. in 1918. The first was a 1919 silent, the second a partial sound version starring Gary Cooper in the Pettigrew role in 1928.

James Stewart plays Bill Pettigrew, a naive young soldier from Texas training for America’s entry into the war in 1917. Margaret Sullavan is the Broadway star Daisy Heath, spoiled, cynical, but still a bit nice. Walter Pidgeon is her longtime paramour Sam Bailey.

The three come together when the young Pettigrew is knocked over by the limousine, owned by Sam, Daisy is riding in. He’s unhurt, but a patriotic copThe Shopworn Angel orders the chauffeur to drive him back to camp. Daisy and Bill get slightly acquainted and he’s seen arriving with her by some of his buddies.

See, Bill likes to pretend. His buddies all brag about their women and Bill is a bit unsure about the opposite sex. He makes up stories, even to the point of writing fake post cards to himself. He begins to brag about his actress girl friend until they demand a meeting. It happens and Daisy goes along with the gag.

Bill becomes smitten, but Daisy looks on him more motherly, going on a tour of the city, mostly Coney Island, her first time ever. Sam becomes jealous. He’d known Daisy for years and assumed they’d eventually marry. Daisy feels the same way and a triangle of sorts develops. Daisy loves Sam and likes Bill. Sam likes Bill as well and sees what’s happening.

imagesWhen Bill gets word they’re shipping out, he goes AWOL to find and propose to Daisy, “a mall chapel by the base.”

This is a war movie, you know, and things don’t go well in the end.

A final note: Hattie McDaniel plays Daisy’s maid, the year before her signature role in Gone With The Wind that netted her an Oscar, the first black actor to win one.