The 1938 remake benefits from a more assured production and, of course, Cukor's direction. And the two are surprisingly close: Whole swatches of dialog from 1930 are lifted more or less bodily (the 1930 version, most likely, did the same with the stage dialog). And it's a rather stagy early talkie, trying, but not very hard, to move the action around and make it more cinematic. What the early version does have is Ann Harding. She's so lovely, and her playing has, I don't know, a stillness, a contemplation to it; she seems to think very hard about what to say before she says it. It lends a certain gravitas to what is already a fairly serious comedy dealing with rather large issues--how to live one's life, and how one's choices affect those around one. Mary Astor is also miles beyond Doris Nolan, creating a multifaceted, complicated character out of what could come across as just a selfish sister. Robert Ames hasn't Cary Grant's polished comedy playing or looks, but he's credible, and Edward Everett Horton is delightful in the same part he played in 1938. It's a mellow, thoughtful movie, marred but hardly ruined by the primitive movie-making. And we're very lucky to have Ann Harding's Oscar-nominated Linda Seton preserved.
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