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Archive for the ‘Loretta Young’ Category

Suez

04 Jun

Suez –– directed by Allan Dwan. Historical Epic. Ferdinand de Lesseps struggles to build the Suez Canal. 104 minutes Black and White 1938.

★★★★

He struggles to dig, he has a setback, a woman encourages him, he struggles to dig, he has a set back, a woman encourages him, he struggles to dig, he has a setback, a woman discourages him. The monotony of the story is supposedly counterbalanced by the beauty of the stars and the production values. And the costumes. Except that the film is over-costumed, so you cannot believe for a minute that anyone ever wore any of those clothes to anyplace but on the way to a movie set. Loretta Young is so dressed, she not only looks like the bride on the wedding cake, she looks like the cake itself.

How did people ever go the bathroom in those clothes?

Well, that’s not the sort of question you were supposed to ask of such films. In those days, you were supposed to be humbly and unquestionably grateful for and trusting of the validity of the “history lesson”. Right now all one can say is that Mister de Lesseps was somehow involved in the excavation. The digging itself was easy, since the isthmus in ancient days was navigable. It was the sand of preparation that had to be continually cleared away, and that is what makes up the story here. But we are given two wonderful big-time special effects, a fatal sandstorm and an avalanche set off by those Islamic terrorists again. They still don’t know when to stop. The director Allan Dwan sure keeps things chugging along, though.

A big and experienced supporting cast cannot breathe life into the dialogue which is as stilted as the men’s high collars, although Nigel Bruce, as usual, somehow manages it. The cast is headed up by Our Lady Of The Holy Wood, Loretta Young, and by Tyrone Power. They made delightful comedies together earlier on the 30s and were a popular duo.

Tyrone Power was a man so beautiful you become rapt to see what his face will do next. Since he is an actor of natural discretion, what you see is always authentic, although how he achieves it, given the lines, is impossible to guess, except that his modesty never rises to the level of the vulgarity of them. With Tyrone Power, what you see is what is made gettable by the fact that behind that face lies the quality that made him a great star, his kindness, sense of fun, his gentlemanliness. He’s not vain and he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He was inhumanly beautiful but not inhumanely beautiful.

The third star is Annabella, who was soon enough to become Tyrone Power’s first wife. While a good deal older than Power, she is perfectly convincing as a hoydenish teenager. She is French, which makes her seem odd and out-of-place, since, while everyone else at court is French, she is the only one in the cast who actually is so. She is a gifted and very fine screen actor and is wonderful to watch, although might prove irritating to watch much longer.

Anyhow, this is a typical historical Hollywood contraption of the period. It is a showcase. It was a crowd pleaser. And Power and Young when young still are enjoyable to behold.

 

 

 

 

Love Is News

29 Jul

Love Is News – Directed by Tay Garnett. Screwball Comedy. An heiress double-crosses a feisty reporter who has double-crossed her. 77 minutes Black and white. 1937.

* * * * *

What fun! What fun to see Loretta Young and Tyrone Power in their early twenties at the peak of their skills and beauty. Of the various blooms in the Hollywood bouquet, the values expressed by this sort of film are one of the most alluring still. You want to look at these two. You want to admire them. You enjoy them, and you don’t want them ever to grow old. You praise all the artifice around them because you know that such a wonderful fuss is right for them. You cannot begrudge their smashing clothes. You’re glad they get the lighting they deserve, and you wish them entirely well in all things. For you want love to be beautiful and to prevail, and never has this last want been so perfectly realized on film as it was in the comedies of the 30s. The story is a combination of Front Page and It Happened One Night, and its first class farce script offers the platform for comic relations between these two stars that are a treat to behold, and must have been a treat to perform, for they move together beautifully. As actors they free one another, they dare one another, and, most important, they argue with one another with complete conviction. The chemistry is artistic, a rarer thing in film acting than buffalos on the moon. While so young, they both had lots of experience as teen-agers, he on the stage with Cornell and she, already a big star in movies. They are Loy and Powell ten years before. They’re just simply talented as all get out. I love ‘em. You will too. So just pick up your white telephone. Dial Love Is News.

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CAFÉ METROPOLE

25 Jul

Café Metropole – Directed by Edward H. Griffith. High Comedy. A Paris debt-ridden restaurateur strong-arms a dead-beat young man to romance a millionaire’s daughter. 83 minutes Black and White 1937

* * * * *

When an actress complained to the photographer Lucien Andriot that he didn’t photograph her as well as he did five years ago, he said, “Well, my dear, I am five years older now.” The wit of his filming of this masterpiece of 30s comedy immensely nourishes the vigor of what passes before our delighted eyes. This is one of the funniest films I have ever seen, Its plot is mobilized by the roguish mustaches of Adolphe Menjou who forces Tyrone Power to impersonate a Russian Duke to impress the family of an American millionaire, played by Charles Winninger, and by Helen Westley, who doesn’t miss a comic trick, and by Loretta Young who is one game gal as the rich man’s daughter, delighted to be taken in by the deception. You’ve got to see how well she looks in clothes. Remember? They are the most gorgeous rigs you have ever seen. No one ever dressed like that except in the movies – which is why we went to the movies, isn’t it? Gregory Ratoff, who also stars in this, also wrote the story, which is wonderful, but more wonderful still is the dialogue, written by Jacques Deval, who gives his characters some of the most mischievous lines ever heard in a motion picture. This is an essential film, perfectly executed to dispel dyspepsia, cancer, and war. Rely on it. It will also paint your house in an ideally brighter color and put all your dear children through Yale.

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Second Honeymoon

18 Jul

Second Honeymoon – Directed by Walter Lang. High Comedy. An argumentative formerly married couple meets again and flirts. 84 minutes Black and White 1937

* * *

Tyrone Power is 23 when he makes this upper crust pastry. He’s so beatuiful that he is more attractive than Loretta Young. And, just as important, he has a wonderful comedic sense. He is charming, good-natured, fun, ready, and real in the quick-take wit of a comedy that might have been written by Noel Coward, and, indeed, once was written by Noel Coward under the assumed name of Private Lives. Looking at it one wonders how the Depression audiences could stand the goings-on of these spoiled folks; they indulge in a vicious deep sea fishing party at one point, which makes one’s hair curl. Anyhow, the film is a perfect example of costumes making the character, and Power and Young and Claire Trevor, who plays a funny married friend, wear their threads with a difference. The rube Stu Erwin plays a virginal nerd as Power’s valet, of all things, and introduces a lower-class invigoration as does Marjorie Weaver who is refreshing and altogether excellent as a voluble and principled cigarette girl. At one point Power asks to kiss her, is granted the privilege, and when she asks him why he wanted to, he says, “I just wanted to know what it felt like to kiss an honest woman.” So the script does have its pleasant byways. At this point in his career, which was to establish Power as the only major male star at Fox, Power was being groomed as a matinee idol, which he became. But there are two types of matinee idol. The first type, the one here, is the idol women are attracted to. That’s what he became at first, and women went to see him. The second type is the sort whom both women and men want to see, thus doubling his box office draw, and this came about when Power was put into a series of swashbuckling roles, starting with The Mark Of Zorro. Power was one of the few male Hollywood stars who could wear period clothes. Here the period is contemporary, and he looks smashing. All his films as Fox made lots of money. This one looks like it deserved it.

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