Friday, August 04, 2006

MY PAST (1931)

Pre-Code romantic melodrama without a lot to recommend it aside from a chance to see the husband/wife team of Ben Lyon and Bebe Daniels together on the screen. She plays an actress who has been engaged in a long-term, on-and-off mistress relationship with middle-aged steel magnate Lewis Stone. While she's in town for a show, they meet up again and during a yacht party, she gets interested in Lyon, Stone's younger business partner. He's all work and no play, even at the party, but the next day, she goes skinny-dipping in the ocean, he jumps in after her, and a torrid affair begins. Lyon is married but eases Daniels' mind by telling her that they have an arrangement and are soon to be separated when she gets back from an overseas trip, but when the wife (Natalie Moorhead) shows up, it turns out that Lyon was exaggerating the separation news. An upset Daniels leaves Lyon and goes back to Stone, who wants to marry her. But wait! Moorhead realizes that there's no heat left in their relationship (and, by the way, she's met someone in Paris) so she suggests a divorce. Lyon, knowing that Stone is serious about Daniels, leaves for an extended European vacation. After some more melodrama involving Daniels almost dying (wasting away from malnutrition, I think), Stone gallantly steps out of the picture, literally delivering Daniels to Lyon and sailing off into the sunset. The principals are all fine, and Joan Blondell is even better in one of her usual brassy blonde supporting parts. There is a funny little moment when Daniels inscribes a copy of "The Maltese Falcon" for Lyon; that was the next movie for both Daniels and the director, Roy Del Ruth. The background music is frequently irritating, sounding like it was being played live just off-camera (which might have been the case). [TCM]

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