Archive for the ‘John Qualen’ Category

Girls’ Dormertory

25 Jul

Girls’ Dormitory – Directed by Irving Cummings. Light Drama. A sexy 19 year old French girl seduces her headmaster, who does not notice the woman who really loves him. 66 minutes Black and White 1936.

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Filmed by Meritt Gerstad to give splendor to the banal, thus were the films of this era made glorious in our eyes if not in our minds. You have to hand it to Hollywood. They knew how to make things appear. Here we have a top flight cast brought into attack upon material that requires a flyswatter. Constance Collier is the redoubtable tank launched against the morals of the girl. Her skirt keeps falling off. This provides neither comedy nor relief. What does count is Ruth Chatterton, here coming to the end of her big career in the 30s at Fox. Have you more than heard of her? Well, she was once married to George Brent, when he was sexy – you know – before he became a talking suitcase. And she resembles with astonishing verisimilitude our own Bette Midler – same face shape, humor, features, figure, and height. She’s very impressive as a power-performer. Opposite her we have that razor strap of an actor Herbert Marshall, smooth, soothing, supple even in a stuffed shirt, innocent, embarrassed, wounded, true. Easy to sympathize with him, no? Opposite him debuts the incredibly seductive young Simone Simon. The film stops dead and your heart stops dead at every close-up of that irresistible upper lip. You want to utterly shame yourself with her. At one of the windows of every Hollywood movie of that era, it would seem, appears the mug of John Qualen, born to sentimentalize, and here wigged out like a codger and playing the janitor. We wait, through the trials and tribulations of the main characters, for a door to open, which in the final scenes it does, to expose to our astounded eyes the first appearance on a screen of the shining animation of the gorgeous face of Tyrone Power. While the movie clumsily stumbles to the wrong ending, our eyes cannot wrest themselves from this beauty, and why should they? Hollywood existed to provide ourselves with such gifts. His talent is in order from the start: he is perfectly in character, plays to the right size of the role, and has a marvelous actor’s voice. He is 22 or so. Unbelievable. All you long for is lodged in wondering did he even look like this when he was 21, 19, 17? Never mind. Here he is at last.



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