Seemingly what producer Jesse Lasky has tried to do is to make a picture which has in it something of the strange fascination of romance and atmosphere of Liliom and at the same time an element of Hollywood punch. He has gotten both things and they don’t blend.
Besides the warring elements of a Liliom theme and a dramatic finish, the story [by Melville Baker and Jack Kirkland] has still another facet, the development of a submotif of bitter social satire in symbolic suggestions of similarities between the animals in the zoo and some of the people that cross the screen. This slant is but vaguely suggested and is never worked out satisfactorily.
However, there can be no two views of the picture’s pictorial beauty. There are several sequences of night falling over a lake in the zoo peopled with strange creatures, where an escaped orphan girl is hiding as the evening mists gather, that are a knockout.
Playing by the two leads is eminently good. Role of the terror-stricken orphanage refugee proves a happy one for Loretta Young’s talents, while the opposite character, that of a wild youngster brought up in a big town menagerie, friend and play-fellow of the beasts of the cages, turns out to be one of those once-in-a-blue-moon for Gene Raymond, a newcomer from legit of only one or two pictures.