Monday, September 01, 2003

End of Summer Catch-Up

The first English-language sound version of Dumas' novel, and a very drab and low-spirited movie. Walter Abel, a solid supporting actor who I liked very much as the manager in HOLIDAY INN, is totally miscast as the youthful, romantic D'Artagnan. Paul Lukas, another actor I usually like, seems a bit too old to play Athos, leader of the Musketeers. He's clearly a pro, however, which is more than can be said for much of the rest of the cast. The whole thing comes off like a bunch of amateurs found some cool sets, costumes, and movie cameras lying around an abandoned studio and decided to have at it. A stage actress named Rosamond Pinchot does a nice job as the queen; this is the only movie she ever made. Heather Angel is OK as Constance, Abel's love interest. The swordplay is unconvincing and the cinematography uninspired. Stick with the glossy MGM version with Gene Kelly.

A romantic farce that set off quite a stir among the censors. It's all about what happens when a young unmarried couple (Priscilla Lane and Jeffrey Lynn) head off for a weekend together at a private cabin in the woods. Fay Bainter plays Lane's mother, a woman who in the past had been a Greenwich Village bohemian feminist but who now holds more solidly middle-class suburban values. Lynn is about to leave for three years overseas and he and Lane decide a last weekend together is in order. Even though we're pretty sure nothing untoward will happen, their plans still send the family into conniptions. A strong supporting cast includes Ian Hunter as the father and May Robson as the lively grandmother, who is the catalyst for the story's last act (in which almost everyone spend the night in jail). Roland Young is his usual fine self as a former friend (and, we are to assume, lover) of Bainter's from the old days who happens to show up for the weekend. Things work out in the end, though only through the sacrifice of character consistency and a sense of reality. Fun if seen as a period piece (the central premise would hardly cause a stir today).

Silly B-movie fluff which wastes completely the potential of its two adult stars. Mary Astor plays a widow who impulsively marries a rather stuffy professor (Herbert Marshall). Her kids (Susan Peters and Elliot Reid) plot to get them to divorce so they can leave their boring college town and move back to New York City. Astor is reliable as always, but the plot never rises above Brady Bunch-type sitcom shenanigans. Richard Carlson is a young academic who Peters secretly marries. George Dolenz, father of Monkee Mickey Dolenz, is in the cast, and supposedly Ava Gardner has a bit part, though I didn't see her.

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