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I like Loretta Young, the old time movie actress, in various films, including Zoo in Budapest.
So, I decided to check out a few films of hers that are available at the local library. The first one is a 1931 "pre-Code" entry that also co-stars Ricardo Cortez as a heel and Joan Blondell as someone hired to stage your typical "adultery" (she gets the amusing final line). Frank Albertson plays the lovable goofball husband and his c.v. suggests he doesn't only play the rather weenie sort of role he played here. It is a wonder some flapper girl (they have been married a year, so maybe the 1920s term still works) with a cool nickname (Claire "Mac" McIntyre) hooked up with him.
The loser husband hurts the proceedings and the overall effort was something of a slog. Still, there are some interesting things down to the little bit of static from time to time that reminds that we are watching something over eighty years old. The guy at the library was surprised to see a videotape (now now -- they still have some at libraries), a change from when I went to another library and videotapes were the thing, no DVDs to be seen. Not quite what TCM or some such channel now sometimes has -- silent films -- but we are talking a bit of history here.
The film starts with our couple at a college party, the hip husband a jazzy musician doing the gig. There is a barrier where the couples steal a kiss out of the sight of the ancient chaperones and outside it is quite crowded with cars for make-out sessions when the two go for a break. I reckon this sort of thing and the ending where the husband (totally uncomfortable -- even when he is told to change into pajamas, he actually only puts them over his clothes) is tricked to a hotel to stage an adultery (again, a standard thing back in the day when "adultery" was the best way to get a "fault" divorce -- the author of the Lonely Doll series actually got caught into an attempt to fake one of these things) was risque stuff in 1931.
But, even as compared to some other films of the day (cf. the laxness of clothes in Tarzan and His Mate, a pretty good film btw, and this one, where even a shot of a shower and Young (who btw has a flapper figure here) in some of the least risque underclothes you will ever see), this seems pretty mild stuff. Joan Blondell is amusing in one of her earliest roles as the person hired at the end to stage the adultery (she is a pro). The rest of the film has the husband go to Paris for a gig, so Mac tries her hand at big business in NYC, already being a college gal. The playboy boss is attracted to her and hires her, so she pretends (though referencing a bf in Paris) to be unmarried. The hubby comes home early (couldn't bear being away, even with the hope of a good job) and complications ensue. Her going a business dinner the night he comes home does underline where her interests might lie! Young plays something of a feminist here, down to making sure her boss knows the meaning of "no."*
Leonard Maltin, the movie review who has a classic movie book out, gave it two stars out of four, which works. A stronger husband character would have helped. Young basically carries the load here, down to (without telling him) getting him a position via her ad agency contacts. As Maltin notes, she is cute as a button here, which she still was "good man, wrong party!" in Farmers Daughter in the 1940s. So, the atmosphere, shots of 1930s Manhattan (I assume they are second unit shots), the music and the rest along with her and Blondell (and for fans, perhaps Cortez, who surely more interesting than Johnny) won't mind much to spend seventy five or so minutes.
But, there are better 1930s films to watch, hopefully including the next one I have scheduled. That plus a latter thriller will be reviewed later on. One more interesting tidbit is Young taking a small plane home from a business trip in Detroit, which added to a (little touches like this does add to the film) race to the finish ending (she had to get back before the "adultery" was discovered, which also might ruin his new successful radio career). The apparent comfort level of her being doing something that only a few would have done at the time underlines the movie star nature of her character for the viewers.
For those who want to see another account of a 1930s woman dealing with big business, Skyscraper, later re-issued by Feminist Press, might be of interest. I enjoyed it. It also was made into a film. I see the library has it! Oh well.
* Loretta Young later had success with her television show, which wound up on a religiously themed channel recently because many of the plots had Christian themes. She herself was a well known Catholic; Marlo Thomas (!) talks about her godmother here. Like many a Catholic, she was far from perfect, but that only makes her more interesting really.