Garson Kanin would quit directing during WWII, went on to write Adam’s Rib and Born Yesterday. Written by the Spewack family (Kiss Me Kate) with help from producer Leo McCarey (Ruggles of Red Gap, The Awful Truth). Shot by Rudolph Maté (who’d later direct D.O.A.) and edited by Robert Wise (who’d direct Day The Earth Stood Still, The Haunting and West Side Story). That’s altogether too much talent for one light comedy to stand! It holds up just fine, though
Three years after The Awful Truth, Cary Grant and Irene Dunne again play a couple in trouble. This time it’s not simple divorce proceedings – she has been missing for years, stranded on an island with hunky Randolph Scott (a year before Western Union), and Grant has just declared her legally dead so he can marry young Gail Patrick (the bad sister in My Man Godfrey). But it’s clear from the beginning that Dunne and Grant need to end up back together since, first of all they have kids and this is the 40’s, and secondly Randolph and Gail are never taken seriously by the movie, as romantic mates or anything else. And so that’s what happens, and I suppose Randolph and Gail end up together but I can’t remember for sure. Ends with a bonkers scene, Grant trying to sleep on a broken cot in the attic before he gives up and comes down to join his wife. Something about male stubbornness I guess.
Wikipedia calls it screwball but I think that word is tossed around too much. Bosley Crowther at the Times was in a weird mood, calling it “a frankly fanciful farce, a rondo of refined ribaldries,” also giving thumbs-up to Granville Bates as the judge in two major scenes. Remade with Doris Day and James Garner in the 60’s.
She meets He on a cruise boat, both returning to their wealthy fiancees. They fall in love, promise to meet atop the Empire State Building in six months. Breaking off their engagements and learning to be self-sufficient, he works at his paintings and she takes a job as a teacher – but she’s hit by a car on the way to her date. She doesn’t want to be pitied so stays quiet, while he thinks he’s been stood up. They meet again, he learns the truth, loves her anyway. One of the most romantical stories of all time!
Simply-shot, talky melodrama. We watched an ugly, blurry copy, but it seems ugly, blurry copies are the only ones available. The ol’ public-domain problem, I’m guessing. I’ve seen most of the Cary Grant/Deborah Kerr 50’s remake, which is very similar in plot and dialogue, has good color and production design and Cary Grant, so seems the clear winner (though they’re both excellent). This one’s main advantage (besides being the original story cowritten by McCarey himself) is Irene Dunne, who has an awfully cute smile and blows away her own earlier performance in Roberta.
Not much to say about Charles Boyer, besides that I recognize his round face from Liliom. It’s Irene’s movie. In fact, the two of them and Boyer’s grandmother (Maria Ouspenskaya of Dodsworth and The Wolf Man) are practically the only actors in the movie (I’m not counting her choir of overly sweet schoolkids). The remake adds a half hour, fleshes out the parts of their fiancees, gives his art dealer and her school principal more lines.
Screenwriter Delmer Daves would later helm Dark Passage and 3:10 to Yuma. Love Affair was nominated for every oscar (except actor – sorry, Chuck Boyer) but didn’t stand a chance against color epics Gone With The Wind and The Wizard of Oz.
Set in Paris but I don’t think there’s a single Parisian (character or actor). Stiff lunkhead footballer Randolph Scott (Ride Lonesome), looking convincingly awkward on the delicate Paris sets, is tagging along for some reason with Fred Astaire (here winningly named Huck Haines) and Fred’s band of musical entertainers.
Randolph looks to his rich aunt Roberta (Helen Westley, who also appeared with Irene Dunne in Show Boat) for a place to stay while Fred negotiates with blustery “Russian” Luis Alberni (hotel owner in Easy Living, chef in The Lady Eve) for a place to work.
Enter Fred’s love interest Ginger Rogers. Where did she come from again? I don’t remember, but she’s somewhat hindered here by her awful fake accent and by Fred’s fancy for solo tapdances. Fred’s got no humility – this was only his third film (between Gay Divorcee and Top Hat) and something like Ginger’s 30th. The two dances she participates in are wonderful, especially the first where she wears pants so we can see what she’s up to.
Aaand enter Irene Dunne (pre-Awful Truth, same year she was in John Stahl’s Magnificent Obsession) as Randolph’s love interest. I hate to see a dumb American dude being fought over by a European princess (Dunne, who has also been secretly designing Roberta’s all-the-rage fashions) and an aggressively rich American (Claire Dodd), but maybe Randy is more handsome than I realize. Irene is also secretly (?) the sister of the building’s doorman (Victor Varconi: Pontius Pilate in DeMille’s King of Kings), which leads to misunderstandings. Hmmm. Ultimately what matters is we get some oscar-nominated songs, some Fred/Ginger dances, and some comedic running-around. I like Irene Dunne whenever she’s not singing (she’s fond of the piercing Jeanette MacDonald style, which would thankfully die after the 30’s).
Remade in the 50’s with Red Skelton and Zsa Zsa Gabor. Lucille Ball appears in a fashion montage at the end. IMDB trivia gives clues how to spot her, but I guess my laptop DVD drive is dying so I can’t get screenshots.