An unimpressive but well intending man is given the chance to marry a popular actress, of whom he has been a hopeless fan. But what he doesn't realize is that he is being used to make the actress' old flame jealous.
Starting in 1913 movie director Connors discovers singer Molly Adair. As she becomes a star she marries an actor, so Connors fires them. She asks for him as director of her next film. Many silent stars shown making the transition to sound.
Elmer is a dry cleaner. He is madly in love with stage star Trilby Drew; for each of her 35 performances, he dons someone else's tuxedo and races to the theatre. When Trilby's co-star boyfriend gets engaged to a socialite, she marries Elmer to get even, assuming Elmer is a millionaire (since his clothes are so snazzy.) But she's clearly still in love with her scoundrelous co-star, and her manager makes her leave Elmer, trying to pay him off so the papers don't hear about her marriage to a "cheap pants presser." Can Elmer win her love? Maybe a sea voyage will help. Written by
In the dressing-room scene while attempting to trim the hair for his false beard, Elmer accidentally severs the left-hand shoulder strap of his vest and has no time to repair it. When we see him hurriedly changing back into his smart clothes after the performance, both straps are still whole. See more »
Generally funny, but not up to his earlier high standards
This was the last silent film starring Buster Keaton, though the film does have sound effects and music--something MGM did to many film in the period between the silents and the full conversion over to sound films. While it is very watchable (particularly to Keaton fans), it is a far cry from his earlier films mostly due to Keaton's ill-fated decision to abandon an independent career (which had resulted in great films such as THE GENERAL and STEAMBOAT BILL JUNIOR) to sign on with MGM Studios. The resulting MGM films were at first pretty good (though noticeably inferior to the independent films). However, as time passed, the films became god-awful messes that are barely watchable and often make Keaton fans cry.
Fortunately, while this IS an MGM-produced film, it is much better than most. The difference between the quality of this film and his next (FREE AND EASY) is dramatic--mostly because by the time FREE AND EASY came along, Keaton was only an actor and had no say in the creative process. This was insane, but the butt-heads at MGM wanted it this way. This was akin to hiring Picasso but only letting him do clown paintings!! SPITE MARRIAGE consists of three distinct sections and each are quite different in quality. The first consists of Keaton slavishly longing for a stage actress who has no idea that he even exists. While parts of this are very funny, the film oddly relies way too much on pathos compared to Keaton's other works--this was more Chaplin's style but now MGM was pushing Keaton this direction. I'd say this part of the movie would merit a score of 7. The second consists of when Keaton dates and then marries this selfish actress. The film grinds to a comedic halt and the highlight, so to speak, is when he spends what seems like an eternity to stick his drunk wife in bed. This was tedious and terribly unfunny--earning a score of 3. The final segment of the film was when Keaton oddly went out to sea. How this all was arranged was very silly and contrived, but once he was there the film finally showed the earlier Keaton magic--with amazing stunts like you'd expect in a Keaton film. How much of this was actually Keaton is debatable, as MGM was worried he'd get killed doing these dangerous stunts--even though Keaton was a master at this (as seen in STEAMBOAT BILL JUNIOR). Because the film's timing and laughs were impeccable, I'd give the final portion a score of 10--thus ending the movie on a very high note. Overall, averaging it all together, the film earns a 7.
Had Keaton continued to make movies of the quality of SPITE MARRIAGE, his career at MGM would have no-doubt flourished for many years, as the film comes very close to earning a score of 8 and is very watchable.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?