Double Harness (1933, John Cromwell)

Joan’s sister Valerie is getting married, so Joan wonders how she might also get married. Marriage, you see, is a business, and emotion should not be involved, so Joan (Ann Harding of Holiday & Peter Ibbetson) makes a business decision to marry John (William Powell, the Thin Man and the Great Ziegfeld), with the scheming help of Valerie (Lucile Browne of Soup To Nuts) and the unwitting help of their father (strangely german-accented Henry Stephenson, who played the nice rich guy who adopts David Lean’s Oliver Twist).

John isn’t into the whole marriage thing and starts hanging out with his hottie ex Lilian Bond (apparently best known for Wyler’s 1940 The Westerner). Meanwhile Val has gone deep into debt buying fancy clothes and in her drunkenness she blows the secret of the scheming to John, who was gonna divorce Joan anyway, but he and Joan kinda love each other now so I think it’ll turn out alright.

George Meeker (ninety movies in the 1930’s! first one was preston sturges’ first big hit as a writer) is unexciting as the sister’s husband, but Reginald Owen (Stingaree, 1938 Christmas Carol, Diary of a Chambermaid, The Pirate, Red Garters and Mary Poppins) is delicious as John’s butler.

It’s a good movie, some funny and racy parts (sly references to all the sex everyone’s having offscreen), good direction, some long camera takes. Nice to see such an excellent new print of a film from 70+ years ago.

We were told by the Turner guys who introduced the film that a famous drag queen was hired as the couturier in the opening scene but upon seeing the rushes the studio flipped and made ’em reshoot it with a more low-key (but still semi-flaming) actor.

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