Saturday, February 28, 2009


Paul Cavanagh is going to Bombay for a year on business, and is sure that his wife (Kay Francis) couldn't take "the rotten food, the natives," and the general lack of civilization, so he sends her off to Paris, despite the warnings of his snooty, meddling spinster sister who doesn’t think Francis can be trusted. Sure enough, while in Paris, Francis begins an affair with a Spanish Don (Ricardo Cortez, pictured)--we're told it's platonic, but I don't really buy that. At the end of the year, she wants to break things off, but Cavanagh arrives in Paris a little ahead of schedule and complains about how "sophisticated" she's become (wearing make-up and all) and gives her a week to say goodbye to her friends and join him back in London. She goes to Cortez's house in Spain, expecting there to be a farewell party, but he tricks her and she's alone with him on a stormy night. He pours on all his oily charm to get her to leave her husband; she ends up writing Cavanagh a letter to that effect, but just after it's mailed, Cortez's nemesis, a man whose teenage daughter was seduced and abandoned by Cortez years ago, arrives and shoots Cortez dead. Can Francis get to London and intercept the letter before Cavanagh or his sister read it? This pre-Code melodrama feels quite creaky now, though it may have played very well back then. It seems completely unbelievable that Francis and Cortez would have been flirting for a whole year without at least a little heavy canoodling. Though I like both actors, they don't have a lot of chemistry together. The twist of the murderous intruder is set up very briefly with an obscure reference to some homeland troubles during one of the Paris scenes, but it's still a rather outlandish plot device. Not one of Francis's better vehicles. [TCM]

No comments: