…When you’re showing classic films!
I can’t tell you how many times I bolted through those doors like a kid in a candy store ( or is that a bull in a China shop? ) I would look for my theatre and the line I should wait on for my next movie experience. I once got there before the theatre was opened so you know I have problems. ( But hey, don’t we all? ) Check out these next four pages to see what I saw:
MY MAN GODFREY ( 1936 )
With this movie I must surrender myself to the Bullock family; leave logic and sanity at the door. This is a laugh-fest and I needed to laugh after “The Sound of Music.” “My Man Godfrey” stars Carole Lombard and William Powell as the scavenger-hunting socialite who finds “the forgotten man”.
Lombard is wonderful, fully committing to this ditsy blonde bombshell, who might actually really know what she’s doing and what she wants: William Powell. He’s the straight man threading his way though the shenanigans with unflappable, quiet command. “…Godfrey” has some fine character actors of the day: Eugene Pallette, Alice Brady, Mischa Auer, Jean
Dixon ( I’ve got to see MORE of her – she can toss a line like nobody’s business ) and Gail Patrick whose dark sleek beauty is the polar opposite to Lombard’s lighter than air cotton candy. I’m a Lombard fan…but I was totally drawn to the darkness of Gail Patrick. Again, sitting with an audience who gets it, just adds to the fun. And this crazy movie is a lot of fun. Day One of the TCMFF ends with a laugh.
THE SMILING LIEUTENANT ( 1931 )
Lubitsch works with Maurice Chevalier, Claudette Col- bert and Miriam Hopkins in this saucy sassy pre-code. Chevalier is a jaunty rapscal- lion, a lieutenant in the guard who is quite successful with the ladies. Oooh la la…quite. His latest conquest is good girl band leader Colbert, who he steals from fellow soldier Charles Ruggles. ( Charlie, really … you thought you had a chance? ) As Chevalier’s brigade stands at parade for a visiting King, he smiles across the procession at Colbert. But unfortunately the King’s daughter thinks the smile’s meant for her. The Princess is the uptight reserved Hopkins. This is the flimsy plot point Lubitsch hangs his hat on? Yeeeeup! And it works. He takes this frothy cotton candy and whips it into a topsy-turvy upside down lemon meringue soufflé.
Chevalier loves one girl ( Colbert ) but is forced to marry another ( Hopkins ); he still sleeps with his mistress while his wife plays checkers with her father on her wedding night. Musical interludes, Wife vs. Mistress until mistress helps wife, getting escorted to your rendezvous by the police, a smorgas-bord of cross-purposes and commentary on royalty with the light skewering touch that Lubitsch made famous. A movie a little similar to this with a marital three-some and some singing is Cary Grant’s “This Is The Night”
( 1932 – William K. Howard ) didn’t work for me. But “The Smiling Lieutenant” does. Maybe I wasn’t ready for it. Maybe it didn’t quite have the light touch or the combination
of actors. The “…Lieutenant”’s cast is very good at staying in their lane. This is the second of four films I’d never seen before and I enjoy the way it all played out. ( I might not do jus-tice with this review but I read a nicely written one by Danny Reid of Pre-Code.com which you can read here ). This was a sexy movie making no bones about people engaged in lovemaking, or the lack thereof. Innuendoes, double-entendres, lingerie…it was out there:
I know it’s pre-code, but I have to tell you my eyebrows did raise a couple of times. I ex-pect this of Chevalier, but Colbert? Whoa!! I think this might be the youngest I’ve ever seen her, a real cute kewpie doll who goes from nice girl to experienced woman. I’m not a real Hopkins fan but she was good in this as the clueless princess ready to be Chevalier’d into a hot house flower…with help from Colbert. I was very taken by Chevalier – he was attractive, loving women ( French for goodness sakes ), not taking anything seriously…and his singing “Ra tat tat tat tat tat…” ( you have to see the movie for all the lascivious intonations he gives that little ditty ). I enjoyed it. Here’s my detailed review if you have time.