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Murder by the Clock (1931)
Genius vs killer
That's how detective William 'Stage' Boyd calls it with his analysis of scheming Lilyan Tashman (Laura). Her husband Walter McGrail (Herbert) is a candidate to inherit a fortune from old, grumpy Blanche Friderici (Julia). No wonder she's a sour-puss. Have you seen her son Irving Pichel (Philip)!!?? Well, Tashman is having an affair with Lester Vail (Thomas) and she will stop at nothing to get that inheritance all for herself.
We have a body count in this film so keep watching as they tally up. Tashman steals the show and Friderici is also good. Both these women deliver entertaining no-nonsense dialogue. The film is presented in the style of a creepy, house mystery with some nice sets for extra spook factor, eg, the crypt where there has been a siren installed in one of the tombs to alert people to any movement within a casket. This is quite a good idea. Basically, Friderici doesn't want to be buried alive so has an alarm system installed to prevent this happening to her. She recounts a story of someone who had turned over when their casket was opened. Ha ha. Actually, it's not that funny. I think I might have one.
However, whilst the sound of this horn is occasionally used to good effect, there is one particular scene where they could have just turned it off as it becomes irritating. Also, the lack of a soundtrack sometimes gives the film a feeling that it is dragging. Some tense music may have added to the atmosphere instead of leaving the action stale in patches.
It's nothing brilliant but one of the better efforts for this type of film.
Bachelor Apartment (1931)
Stay a bachelor
Playboy Lowell Sherman (Wayne) loves to party and sleep with different babes. Who doesn't? However, he is fortunate that he is so wealthy otherwise he wouldn't be sleeping with any babes at all. He's not a looker like me. One of these women - Mae Murray (Agatha) is particularly keen and keeps showing up at his apartment. However, he's no longer interested as he has decided to pursue one woman and one woman only - stenographer Irene Dunne (Helene). However, she is completely uninterested in him. Where do we go from here...?
Well, we know where we're going. It's a comedy and so it's going to end with a happy-ever-after situation. The problem is that the film is rather boring. I wanted to like it but kept drifting off on daydreams. This happened on at least 3 occasions. I'm afraid the film doesn't hold the attention for the full duration. Castwise, Sherman has a natural style of acting and is fine to lead proceedings but the opening sequence with butler Charles Coleman (Rollins) gives sets the mood of the film. It's a long drawn out sequence of clearing up the living room after a night of denauchery with interruptions from the telephone and doorbell and it goes on for ages - boring!
Irene Dunne has nothing about her which screams "she's the one" and Murray has a peculiar voice - no wonder Hollywood dropped her from speaking parts. Her laugh is awful. Sherman is the best thing about this effort but it's just not quite enough.
Safe in Hell (1931)
Safer in Heaven
Dorothy Mackaill (Gilda) is a prostitute who gets assigned a client by her madam Cecil Cunningham (Angie). She turns up at the designated apartment and it's someone she knows and dislikes - Ralfe Harolde (Piet). Their paths have crossed when she was working for him and his wife caught them canoodling and what have you. As a result, Mackaill had fallen on hard times and entered into her current profession. Anyway, she doesn't like him. And she wastes him with a great bottle throw to the head. Ouch! I winced at that point. The apartment catches fire and burns down but there is a witness who can describe the female visitor that is Dorothy and the police come after her on a murder chasrge. Luckily, she has a sailor boyfriend Donald Cook (Carl) who helps her relocate to a Caribbean island where there are no extradition laws. However, there are a bunch of criminals all evading American justice and this is her new home as boyfriend Cook sails away on duty. Her aim is to remain true to her man but there is plenty of interest in her, especially from the bad guy jailor and executioner Morgan Wallace (Bruno). It is her relationship with him that motivates her truly crazy behaviour.
It's a good film, well acted with funny moments from her fellow hotel companions. But what on earth is that storyline about! No way! Mackaill's behaviour doesn't ring true so the film has to lose a mark for giving us a dumb-ass script. She's been a prostitute for goodness sake! Also, she has an opportunity to escape the island when sailorman Cook returns. Who wouldn't tell the truth to their loved one. What a load of tosh. Lose another mark for being so stupid.
Hotel manageress Nina Mae McKinney (Leonie) puts in a good performance as does Charles Middleton as a corrupt lawyer living on the island. It would have been nice to see him get romantic with Mackaill but the script didn't take that route. They seemed well suited. Mackaill carries the film well and it has a claustrophobic feel to the island location. Great introduction title card and first sequence with no-nonsense dialogue. This is definitely pre-code.
A Woman of Experience (1931)
An ok experience
It's World War 1 and Helen Twelvetrees (Elsa) is a prostitute who wants to serve her country - Austria - against the Allies. She offers herself as a nurse but is rejected on the grounds of her profession. However, her trade does qualify her to become a spy and lure men into giving her secrets. Her first target is Captain Lew Cody (Otto) who is suspected of passing on secrets. However, she's not very good at being a spy and decides to bunk off and carry on a love affair with a man from the Navy William Bakewell (Karl) instead. Duty or romance? Which is it to be?
This is not so much a spy film as a romance. That loses marks for me as I felt we could have been drawn in by a more interesting story regarding the betrayals and tactics employed. A better spy film from the same year is "Dishonored" starring Marlene Dietrich, also as an Austrian prostitute-turned-spy.
Something that annoyed me in this film was Bakewell's pronunciation of the name Elsa. It's Elsa with an "s". It's not Elza with a "z". My mother was called Elsa and this really bugged me. Lose a mark.
The film has a weird ending and I don't agree with the implied course that the film takes but Twelvetrees does carry the film.
Scandal Sheet (1931)
A headline affair
Newspaper editor George Bancroft (Flint) is a nasty piece of work. He will print anything that he deems newsworthy regardless of the effects on those concerned and their families. He is even approached by a kind-hearted old headmaster to hold back a story but Bancroft is having none of it. His wife, Kay Francis (Edith), is having an affair with banker Clive Brook (Adams) and debating whether or not to elope with him. Her decision will influence the course of this film.
The film is ok if a little dull but picks up at the end once Bancroft takes matters into his hands. However, the final scenes are ridiculous. There is some funny dialogue between Bancroft and Brook but I'm afraid we just can't sympathize with Bancroft and his monotone voice. He's not a role model to attach your emotions to and this is why the ending is particularly annoying.
I've read that Bancroft regarded himself as something pretty special in real life. In this film, his news hierarchy to present to the public has stories about newspapermen allocated to page 3. They are not headline material. Well, he makes sure he promotes himself to headline status. That's total dedication for you. What a big-head!
Night Nurse (1931)
Barbara Stanwyck (Lora) wants a chance to become a nurse and gets it. She is accepted as a trainee and rooms with Joan Blondell (Maloney). They have rules to abide by and the beginning of the film seems like an episode of 'Casualty' with various operations, injuries and baby deliveries. This isn't what I expected. It all seems a bit boring. Where's the story?
At about the halfway mark, Stanwyck gets assigned to a house as the night nurse to watch over two children. They seem to be displaying symptoms of starvation and Stanwyck has a theory that they are being deliberately killed off.
The film has two unintentionally hilarious inaccuracies. Firstly, the two children are displaying signs of starvation. How's that then? They are huge! Secondly, when one of the children needs a blood transfusion, she needs a donor with a similarly rare blood type. Guess which one? You never will. But Stanwyck can help because luckily she also has blood type 4H! What? Obviously some kind of as-yet undiscovered alien blood group. This would, however, explain how Stanwyck could diagnose her fellow fat alien with symptoms of starvation. A normal human wouldn't see it. I repeat, the kid looks perfectly healthy, possibly a little overfed.
Clark Gable (Nick) makes an excellent bad guy and isn't in the film long enough. The cast are good but the story is somewhat lacking in direction or tension. And Stanwyck is most certainly not a fan of ethics or morals. Check out what her bootlegger boyfriend Ben Lyon (Mortie) does in order to wrap up the film to make for a happy ending. Well, that was all pretty non-sensical. It's ok for a watch once but I felt let-down given the strong cast. The non-stop partying by Charlotte Merriam (Mrs Ritchey) seems cool, though.
The Maltese Falcon (1931)
Richard Cortez (Sam) has a detective agency he shares with Walter Long (Miles). Not for long. Once ladies man Cortez accepts the assignment from Bebe Daniels (Ruth) to track down her sister, Long takes on the case. Not for long. It soon becomes clear that Daniels is up to trickery. What ensues is a chase to get hold of a precious statue - the Maltese Falcon.
The cast are good in this film. Forget about comparisons to the more famous version, this film holds its own and the characters all hit the mark. The more famous version just copies certain scenes and dialogue sections pretty much identically. That's because it was done so well first time around. This film is more open with the sexual relations between the cast, especially Cortez and Daniels, and Dudley Digges (Gutman), who plays the rival to Daniels in her quest for possession of the Maltese Falcon, and his assassin/sgimp Dwight Frye (Wilmer).
It's good entertainment and it looks like the chase is still on.
X Marks the Spot (1931)
Lew Cody (George) gets the headline credit and plays a newspaper editor but the film isn't about him. Sally Blaine (Sue) gets second billing and the film is even less about her. Where on earth is this going? Wallace Ford (Ted) plays a reporter and we finally have our main man who is third in the cast list. He gets a favour from bad guy Fred Kohler (Riggs) to raise some money to treat his sister Joyce Coad (Gloria) after she has an accident. This is an incident he is eternally grateful for and vows to help out gangster Kohler if ever called upon. Eight years later and it's time to repay the favour....
The copy of the film I saw wasn't good quality and the dialogue was no longer synched to the actor's lips - always annoying. When it comes to the acting, pretty much everyone was annoying. Kohler comes out best as he convinces as a gangster - his voice and his look suit the part. Ford is annoying as the lead actor with his chirpy manner but he does deliver some funny lines. The dialogue does have entertaining patches and the film moves quickly. Not sure there is much else going for it. We should have spent more time with the chorus girls as they seemed to have more personality than Blaine or Coad. And the less said about the comedy character of hotel bell-hop Clarence Muse (Eustace) the better. What's that I hear...........? .........tumbleweed......
Ladies of the Big House (1931)
Flower shop assistant Sylvia Sidney (Kathleen) falls in love with Gene Raymond (Stan) and they marry. Just as they are about to embark on a new life together, Sidney's jealous ex-lover and wanted gangster Earle Foxe (Athens) sneaks into their house to kill them. However, he kills a detective instead who coincidentally shows up at the house on the same night. Bad guy Foxe frames the newlyweds for the murder and Sidney gets a stretch in prison whilst Raymond gets the death sentence. Are the lovebirds doomed?
Weirdly, the first half of the film is more tense than the main themed second half that is set in the prison. Once, the film moves to the prison, I was expecting tension and action but got very little. The film loses its way, gets a bit sentimental in parts and a bit boring. We need a more concerted effort to spend time with the girls so we can begin to relate. The only character who comes off well is bad girl Wynne Gibson (Susie). There should have been way more characters like her vying to be 'top dog'.
Plot-wise, all of a sudden, there's going to be a jailbreak! That's all very well but at least warn us of this so the audience can get a bit more involved. The whole experience is just emotionally uninvolving. The second half of the film brings things down after an interesting start.
Blonde Crazy (1931)
The age of chiselry
Bell-hop Jimmy Cagney (Bert) and laundry girl Joan Blondell (Anne) work in the same hotel and come together for a life of scams. They aren't romantic partners but have a loyal friendship as a pair of con artists. They travel around and get involved in some entertaining tricks which both loses them money and wins it back again. One such scam is very satisfying - well done Joan! Eventually, she falls in love with wealthy Ray Milland (Joe) and we feel that a good thing is coming to an end as our conniving duo go their separate ways.....
But wait, Blondell comes back! Hooray. There is a final twist in this story and I like how it ends. It's an entertaining film and the cast are all engaging characters. There is definitely chemistry between Blondell and Cagney and the dialogue is very 'straight talking' which is amusing and believable. You also appreciate how resourceful both Cagney and Blondell are and combined with their like-ability, the film has you rooting for a happy outcome for them both.
My Sin (1931)
There is always a skeleton in the closet
Poor Tallulah Bankhead (Carlotta). In this film she ended up in Panama working as a prostitute - smoking, drinking, singing and generally having a great time. However, her pimp husband Joseph Calleia ruins it all by demanding her money and one day he is no more. Bang! Bankhead goes on trial for his murder but gets off thanks to drunken lawyer Fredric March (Dick). Both these character's lives are turned around after this incident. It is obvious that they belong together yet they go their separate ways and become successful in their own right - she as an interior decorator and he as a lawyer. Rich, snooty Scott Kalk (Larry) becomes Tallulah's love interest but will her past come back to haunt her? When wealthy oil tycoon Harry Davenport (Roger) shows up as one of Kalk's relatives, it looks like things aren't going to work out. Tallulah reminds him of a girl involved in a murder trial in Panama some years ago...
Well, it's a pretty stupid storyline in which we are given painfully contrived scenarios. We know what the outcome will be and we just wait for the romance to pan out and the right two characters to pair off with each other. There is nothing very interesting about the film once it moves away from the Panama setting. Tallulah is good in the lead - a sort of Bette Davis character before Davis was around. She entered film so that she could sleep with Gary Cooper, so her character at the beginning of the film is what she was actually like. She got her way with Cooper, by the way.
Dance, Fools, Dance (1931)
Get a job?!
Joan Crawford (Bonnie) and William Bakewell (Rodney) are rich kids who like to party. They light up infront of their father at breakfast. They are cool. However, daddy William Holden dies and leaves them with nothing. This means they encounter the worst situation that can possibly happen, namely, the realization that they have to get a job. What a disaster. I really sympathized with them at this point. What a way to waste your life.
So, Crawford uses her connections to get a job with a newspaper where she forms a close working alliance with fellow journalist Cliff Edwards (Bert). Brother Bakewell thrives by using his connections to sell illegal booze. Good for those connections. It's good to see that a lifetime of partying can pay off. Bakewell heads into the dangerous gangland territory headed by Clark Gable (Jake) and this leads to brother and sister crossing paths once more, only this time they are not in swimsuits. It's an entertaining story and film.
The cast are good although Crawford is given a boyfriend who outstays his welcome in the film. She also gets do show us some dance moves - didn't expect that feather to her bow.
I guess the moral of the story is don't get a job.
Smart Money (1931)
Watch out for the girls
Edward G (Nick the Barber) is top dog in a small town when it comes to gambling. His pals, including James Cagney (Jack) give up their savings and hand him $10K to head off to a big city and double their money for them. After all, he can't lose - he's that good. He goes in search of a well-known card-player and this is where his trouble begins. Not only does he encounter some dodgy characters but he also comes across duplicitous women, a couple of whom he falls in love with. Cagney comes to join him but can their friendship survive what is happening in the big city?
It's a gentle gangster film that doesn't deliver anything too special when it comes to confrontation scenes. It's more interesting from a mystery element as to what is going on. For example, Edward G strikes up a friendship with cigarette girl Noel Francis (Marie) in a hotel but when he returns to see her the next day, she has gone. Something fishy is going on and you know she is going to re-appear at some point. All the women in this film are up to some kind of trickery so Edward G has to keep alert. It's not so much the bad guys but the bad girls that he has to watch out for.
There is blatant racism in this film - rubbing a black man's head for good luck. Not just once. I've seen it happen in modern times with a dwarf so this thing still goes on.
Waterloo Bridge (1931)
Give me my potatoes!
I think director James Whale must have had an afternoon listening to the track "Streetwalkin" by 1980s English jazz-funk band Shakatak and decided to go direct a film about prostitution. Mae Clarke (Myra) stars as a chorus girl turned prostitute during the WW1 years. She meets Canadian soldier Douglass Montgomery (Roy) on Waterloo Bridge during a zeppelin raid over London and they shelter together and build a relationship. Montgomery is innocent and her profession doesn't register with him. Can his love for her take her from the world she knows and provide them both with a wealthy lifestyle?
The two leads are likeable and give good performances. Mae Clarke even comes across as if she is ad-libbing - very natural. However, we also get over-the-top histrionics from her, so it's a mixed bag. The rest of the cast also do well with a special mention to Enid Bennett as Montgomery's mother. The scenes between her and Clarke are emotionally well-played as we wonder how the topic of Clarke's profession will be handled.
There are a couple of downsides to the film. Firstly, the bumbling major as played by Frederick Kerr is a complete waste of time. He is not funny and should have been cut completely from the film. As a consequence, that also leaves the role as played by Bette Davis redundant. What's the point of having her in the film? I get it if she is going to be responsible for some sort of big reveal or downfall of a character, but she actually has no purpose other than to help with Kerr's annoying scenes. Lose them both. Also, the film is quite stagey and lingers on the same sets just a little too long. It's obviously a play.
Still, as a drama, it is entertaining and we get a twist at the end which nobody wants to see happen. So, the ending is memorable.
Behind Office Doors (1931)
Charles Sellon (Ritter) retires as President of a paper company and secretary Mary Astor (Mary) fixes it so that salesman Robert Ames (Duneen) is promoted to take over at the top. Ames is a shouty type of person - very annoying - and fancies himself with the ladies. Cue Edna Murphy (Daisy) who is the best thing about the film and should have been given more screen time. She is hired as a secretary to work alongside Astor. Astor is in love with Ames but he doesn't seem to notice her. How will it all work out?
Yes, well you've guessed how it all works out. Shame. It should have worked out different. Astor keeps the film going but she is pretty annoying. Who would fall so blindly in love with someone like Ames? It doesn't make sense. So, it's a stupid film.
City Streets (1931)
No hard feelings
Gary Cooper (kid) works on a stall at a fairground and he's pretty handy with a gun. His girlfriend Sylvia Sidney (Nan) wants him to be more ambitious and she can help with this as her father Guy Kibbee (Pop) is a gangster working the illegal booze market and it pays well. All Coop has to do is work for him. But he's not keen. Then, we get a murder and Sylvia is in trouble. Coop wants to help.
It's a gangster film with a love story at its heart as opposed to just straightforward gangs shooting each other and the police turning up and winning in the end. It's a romance and you want to see a happy ending but given the setting for the film, ie, gangland, it might not work out that way. I felt the ending could have been a more tense affair.
It's enjoyable, the cast are good and I enjoyed Cooper and his cheeky shooting at the beginning of the film. Not so much the showing off part to Sylvia but that extra shot he fires when his boss starts to tell him off. Look out for it coz that's the funny one!
My Past (1931)
My, oh my...
.....that was a bit boring. There is an interesting set-up with relationship anomiles playing out all over the place. Lewis Stone (John) is the rich sugar daddy type who spends all his time entertaining on his yacht, especially with the company of actress Bebe Daniels (Doree) and her friend Joan Blondell (Marion) who seems to pair off with her sugar daddy Albert Gran (Lionel). Ben Lyon (Bob) works for Stone and is invited on board to one of these yacht adventures and falls in love with Daniels. Uh-oh, should be loads of tension between boss and employee over this one...
Well, there isn't. Stone seems to encourage this other relationship with the woman he loves. What? He also laughs a lot in quite a creepy way which doesn't make any sense. And the film drags. It's good that it depicts a complicated world of relationships but it's just not very realistic. Natalie Moorhead (Consuelo) turns up as Lyon's wife and they have quite a frank discussion about their marriage. It's definitely pre-code material. Watch for the settings and the outfits and the female acting and you get some entertainment out of things. Lewis Stone.....!!....?...weirdo.
The Public Enemy (1931)
I'm forever blowing bubbles
The director of this film is obviously a West Ham fan. You can tell by his choice of music. This a gangster story of two boyhood friends who grow up together and graduate into hardened criminal activities. James Cagney (Tom) is the more psychotic of the two, yet he retains a sense of hierarchy within his own family allowing older brother Donald Cook (Mike) to punch him on a couple of occasions without undertaking any revenge behaviour. It's a different story in his working life, though!
Whether you like Cagney or not, he holds the film together as we are led through various episodes. Cook plays his brother in a sort of brooding Gregory Peck manner which contrasts sharply with Cagney's fiery upfront temperament. Indeed, looks-wise, I thought Cook was a far more appropriate brother for Cagney's partner in crime Edward Woods (Matt). I have then found out that Woods was originally cast in the Cagney role but the director swapped them around. That explains things.
Whilst there are memorable scenes, especially the ending - a haunting image that stays with you - I'm afraid that the film loses marks for the main female roles. They don't do anything - good time girls Joan Blondell (Mamie) and Jean Harlow (Gwen) are wasted. And the less said about the dreadful Beryl Mercer (Ma) the better.
The Man in Possession (1931)
Shame in society circles
Posh Robert Montgomery (Raymond) is rejected by his social climbing family when he returns home from jail. Both his father C Aubrey Smith and his brother Reginald Owen (Claude) have agreed to give him some money to go away to another country. This is so that he can not embarrass the family's social standing any further, especially as his brother is about to marry wealthy socialite Irene Purcell (Crystal). Montgomery rejects their offer, sticks around and gets a job as a bailiff. Uh-oh, his first job is to collect on Purcell. She isn't so wealthy...............
This film is better than I expected and it's funny. All the actors do well with the exception of the annoying Beryl Mercer who plays the mother. She reminded me of the annoying mother character in the 1970s UK comedy 'Citizen Smith' who keeps saying "Hello Foxy" to the character of "Wolfie". Another oddity is casting the maid Charlotte Greenwood (Clara) above Purcell. This is largely Purcell's story and she has a far more significant role in the film.
Ruth Chatterton (Fay) marries everybody's favourite high society hero Paul Cavanagh (Ronnie). As charming as he is, however, he is also pretty adept at deception. Chatterton realizes that all is not as it seems when it comes to marital fidelity. What she does as a reaction to her discovery is totally bizarre but it's done in good faith to protect her emotionally unstable brother Donald Cook (Terry). What I like about pre-code films is that you can end them how you like. Will the truth be revealed?
Well, I didn't expect that ending. I think there is quite a lot of plot that unravels during this film. It is a soap opera story that manages some complicated plot twists during its short running time. The problem is that the male characters are difficult to differentiate at the film's beginning, it's slow to get going and the storyline is just complete nonsense. The line deliveries of Ruth Chatterton and Donald Cook are way over the top - spoken as if acting in the case of Chatterton and as if trying to act in the case of Cook. I'm afraid that people have just never spoken like that in reality.
It's funny when you look back on the fashion styles of the time. Those pencil moustaches and slicked back hair just make all men look the same. It's similar to women who tie their hair back taught against their foreheads into a ponytail (the Essex facelift) - you all look the same as each other!
Helen Twelvetrees (Millie) stars as the title character in a soap opera story of her life. We follow her as she gets married to wealthy James Hall (Jack) as an innocent girl and we end up almost 20 years later. How does she change during this period? Pretty drastically.
The supporting cast are good despite every character being portrayed as deceitful - the men are cheaters and the women are gold-diggers. Lilyan Tashman (Helen) and Joan Blondell (Angie) have the most entertainng parts and they are funny with their dialogue. They also provide some glamour with their outfits and the sets are interesting. We also get creepy John Halliday (Jimmy) who keeps trying his luck with Twelvetrees over the course of the film. Well, if the girl doesn't wanna play what's a man to do?
It's a woman's film from the early 1930s and is of historical interest as that.
Boris Karloff is the monster as created by Colin Clive (Dr Frankenstein) out of various body parts from the dead. Add a stolen abnormal brain and wait for the electricity from a storm to strike - bingo! Oh no, he's gone AWOL.
It's a film classic but probably a bit boring for today's audience. It doesn't have enough tension and although there are a few standout scenes, more atmosphere could have been created throughout the film instead of concentrating on other story elements. We needed more Karloff and his demented ways. You've got to love the scene with the little girl, Marilyn Harris (Maria), though. Ha ha - a bit sudden! Still, he's a nice monster, really. It all progresses up to a Wicker Man type ending.
Children of the night
Dwight Frye (Renfield) has an appointment with Bela Lugosi (Dracula). He is to meet him at Dracula's Castle in Transylvania at midnight. Is he insane?! The answer turns out to be yes he is, especially after the meeting. Bela travels over to England with his new assistant Dwight and lives the life of a vampire. He needs human blood to survive and that means victims.
The film is a bit creaky but it's a classic so worth watching. It still contains creepy sequences and there is plenty of unintentional humour to enjoy. Shame it ends so easily. They could have made much more out of this with some extra twists. I have read that the director didn't care much for making this so maybe that has something to do with it.
Bats, howling wolves, vampire wives, mirrors with no reflections - the only thing missing was garlic. I guess the whole garlic thing is a later invention. Along with having to ask permission to enter a house if you are a vampire. Bela doesn't bother with that formality. I now understand why there is a yearly UK Gothic Festival held at Whitby. It's the location of Dracula's UK residence. I think I'll attend and check it out.
Platinum Blonde (1931)
How to putter
Loretta Young (Gallagher) has inexplicably been given top billing in this film. She plays a reporter who is overlooked as relationship material by fellow reporter Robert Williams (Stew). He should have top billing. Jean Harlow (Ann) plays an upper class woman who moves in 'high society' and she should get second billing. I'd then have her butler Halliwell Hobbes placed 3rd in the cast list before Loretta gets her postion. That's 4th position.
The story screams its preachy message to the audience as Williams marries wealthy Harlow but things don't work out as he is expected to adopt her society ways. There is another girl who he works with who seems a better match for him. Guess what happens?
Unfortunately, there is no mystery to this film and there are both amusing segments and irritating segments. Williams has a natural way of acting that reminds me of Spencer Tracey but he's just slightly smug with it which turns the audience away. Loretta should have played the society girl as she has the look for that kind of role and it would have been more in line with meriting top billing in the film. I find it interesting to watch Jean Harlow but the film, regrettably, only passes as an ok effort.
La chienne (1931)
The tramp and the tramp
We start off with a puppet show introducing the characters and the film's themes - it's a great opening. We then follow the film's patsy, the mild-mannered bank clerk Michel Simon (Legrand). He is married to the ghastly Magdeleine Bérubet (Adele) who keeps drumming home how much more of a man her previous (dead) husband was. I actually thought that she was "la chienne" to begin with. There is an amusing twist to her tales regarding the first husband.
Well, the real "la chienne" is played by Janie Marèse (Lulu) who lures Simon into a relationship so that he can provide for her, and she, in turn, can provide for her nasty pimp boyfriend Georges Flamant (Dede). Poor Simon hasn't a clue what is happening and how he is being used until the moment arises when he does! The story then throws us a murder. The film has a humour that comes into its element at the end where comedy and tragedy combine harmoniously.
The relationship between the pimp and the tart is so unconvincing that I'm afraid the film loses marks for this. Set against this, it is funny how men can bond over the dislike of a particular woman - some good moments in here regarding that.