Thanks to the light touch of director Gregory (MY MAN GODFREY) this soggy farce is pretty light on its feet, even with all that dead air and early sound hiss and TCM’s print all but faded to gray. Mary Astor stars as the martyrishly modern wife who comes home from a trip abroad to find her husband, Don (Robert Ames) wanting a divorce and planning to marry a blonde golddigger (Noel Francis) with a claw-hooked mother (Gladys Gale). Once again, the gender neutral fuddy-duddy-isms of Edward Everett Horton (the pre-code Michael Cera?) attempt to liven the stiltedness. When Horton comes to pick Mary Astor up from the docks in a huge crowd scene there’s a brief, horrifying minute you think he’s the husband Astor’s been boasting of to Sir Guy Harrington (John Halliday) during the voyage. Things get better when golddigger Francis hits it off with Sir Guy on a very weird and sexy on a bicycle ride. Dewy, wild-eyed and seductive, she really wakes up the film in this scene, but the zzz’s are never far behind, struggling to catch up like Edward Everett Horton on a girl’s bike. (originally posted in Acidemic Pre-Code Capsules #3)
(skip Half-Naked Truth, brother, unless you’re a Lee Tracy fan, and Age of Consent unless you’re schmaltz fan)
BED OF ROSES
Who’d of thunk there was a fake Mae West? At least that’s how Pert Kelton (Molly the maid in MY MAN GODFREY) plays Minnie, the unrepentant gold digger pal of Constance Bennett in this film by Gregory La Cava. Constance is an even sharper digger but gives up her kept woman status (earned in a hilarious office seduction scene) in the boudoir of rich publisher John Halliday so she can “scrub floors” for pony keg-chested barge captain Joel McRae. Love is seen here as a chump’s ticket to the poorhouse! But love is worth it, so the songs all sing. Those songs are scams, as Pert Kelton (below) would say. The dialogue is great throughout, though, with Halliday and Kelton trying to wise up Constance to her self-inflicted class-ceilinged moral code. There’s a big Mardi Gras scene that’s all dressed up to go nowhere, but it’s altogether a gem and a hoot. Hooter regulars Franklin Pangborn as a prissy (what else?) department store manager and the fake Hugh Herbert (perish the thought, tut tut, perish it) Matt McHugh as Minnie’s dopey rich husband round out the deal with class. (originally posted in Acidemic pre-code capsules #1)
There’s some other things floating around after that, but beware anything with Hugh Herbert in it! That guy can eat up half a film’s screening time just buttoning his coat up and tut-tut-tutting…. Follow the Pert.
Oh SHIT! Susan Lenox her Fall and Rise was on this early morning… now that’s a lurid pre-code.