Tuesday, August 13, 2002


This Joan Crawford comedy was fun, although not quite as fun as it should have been given its strong cast. It's a remake of a movie made in 1929 with Norma Shearer (which I reviewed here back in December 2001). Crawford plays a woman who poses as a rich widow in order to gain the confidence of a group of rich folks so she can steal a valuable strand of pearls. Her "servants," including William Powell (apparently her lover), Melville Cooper, and Sara Haden, are actually her partners in crime. Frank Morgan does his usual doddering old fool character, falling for Crawford and doing foolish things while pursuing her. Robert Montgomery is the English Lord who also falls for, and she eventually for him. He catches her in mid-theft and the sparks really start to fly.

From what I recall, this follows the original quite closely. Crawford comes off better than Shearer did (part of the reason is the awkward early talkie acting style of the original). Powell, in what amounts to a supporting role, is just as wonderful as he always is. Nigel Bruce is good, as is Jessie Ralph as the Duchess. In fact, the movie could have used more Ralph, Bruce, and Powell. But Montgomery is the weak link, not nearly as good as Basil Rathbone was in the '29 film. He does a variation on his "irritating cad who is actually a charming fellow," but he comes off far more irritating than charming, and I couldn't buy that Crawford would even think about giving up Powell for him. Still, it was worth watching. The first 20 minutes and the last 20 minutes are the most fun.

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