FERNANDO’s CORNER: Posted on December 23rd, 2015
I revisited John Gilbert‘s best talkie and one of his greatest films “Downstairs“ ( 1932 ), in which he was not afraid of demolishing – in a way – the “great lover” myth, playing a no-good, amoral, selfish schemer, who uses his looks and charm in order to lure women to their doom. He blackmails and uses them for his convenience. This film would make a great double bill with “Red Headed Woman“, because Karl the chauffeur is the masculine counter-part of Harlow’s tart; and in fact, both pictures’ absolutely Pre-Code endings are similar.
I was again completely blown away by the adult nature of the film and by how fresh the story is, so un-clichéd, I was also blown away by the fabulous performances of John Gilbert and Paul Lukas, particularly Gilbert’s courage for having tackled such an un-pleasant role. Lukas plays perfectly, sans mustache, a decent, bashful, good natured man, so unlike the debonair and sophisticated characters at which he excelled during the 1930s. EXCELLENT 10/10. One of the best Pre-Codes ever.
The film also includes: Virginia Bruce, Olga Baclanova, Reginald Owen and Hedda Hop-per.
Here is an excerpt:
( H O M E )