Sunday, August 25, 2002


This mostly forgotten comedy, shown during TCM's Joan Crawford tribute, is a mixed blessing. The unoriginal adultery plot (which calls to mind the later and funnier THE AWFUL TRUTH) is secondary here to the clever dialogue (by Donald Ogden Stewart, who wrote the screenplay to THE PHILADELPHIA STORY) and to a strong supporing cast. Crawford plays another rich young woman of the 30's whose only troubles seem to be romantic ones. After years of indecision, she and fellow rich guy Robert Montgomery decide to tie the knot, but he can't quite settle down and he has what we assume to be a one-night stand with Gail Patrick. Then he lies to Crawford about it. She finds out and tries to retaliate by flirting with pal Franchot Tone at an impromptu house party.

Crawford is fine, but Montgomery and Tone, fighting for Crawford's hand, wind up being nearly indistinguishable from each other, both in looks and in character. There is some very funny dialogue along the way, but it was the supporting cast that rescued the movie for me: Charles Ruggles is fun as a slurring drunk and Arthur Treacher comes in at the end as a stuffy Brit who mumbles loudly and is tricked into misusing American slang--to thank a young woman for a dance, he gleefully shouts, "Nuts to you!" Vivienne Osborne, whose work I'm not familiar with, is good as Treacher's ditzy wife who gives everyone irritating pet names. Even Gail Patrick, who isn't normally given much to do in her man-stealing parts, is fine here. But the best is Edna May Oliver, playing the wise and witty matriarchal figure--she steals every scene she's in and was the main reason I finished watching the movie. She gets to play a little different part than usual, but still manages to let loose with a braying cackle or two, at just the right time.

No comments: