Angela and Bob Brooks are an upper class couple. Unfortunately, Bob is an unfaithful husband. But Angela has a plan to win back her husband's affections. An elaborate masquerade ball is to ... See full summary »
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Cecil B. DeMille
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Cecil B. DeMille
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Cecil B. DeMille
Angela and Bob Brooks are an upper class couple. Unfortunately, Bob is an unfaithful husband. But Angela has a plan to win back her husband's affections. An elaborate masquerade ball is to be held aboard a magnificent dirigible. Angela will attend and disguise herself as a mysterious devil woman. Hidden behind her mask, and wrapped in an alluring gown, Angela as the devil woman will to try to seduce her unknowing husband and teach him a lesson. Written by
Thomas McWilliams <email@example.com>
This is a strange film--a crazy quilt blend of bedroom farce, musical and disaster all rolled into one, resulting in an outlandish oddity. Cecil B. DeMille was adept at all types of films, everything from bedroom farces in the silent days (notably those featuring Gloria Swanson) to sprawling adventures to Bibilical epics-morality plays, but even the versatile director appears to hit a snag with this peculiar production. To give fair credit, he does quite well considering the highly unconventional material and turns it into a fascinating curio; with a lesser director it may have just been a curio, period. This is one film that if ever you have the chance to see it, do not miss it! The first 50 or so minutes is a typical, mediocre bedroom farce--long suffering, reserved, patrician society wife Angela Brooks (looking every inch the prim WASP lady with her pale hair, long nose, pursed lips and all) has all the material comforts but is made unhappy by her straying, high-living husband Bob, who is carrying on with a spirited man-eating strumpet named Trixie (no kidding). To win back her hedonistic husband's full affections, Angela determines she must shed her staid respectability and become a sultry siren, and from that point on the real fun begins!
The main actions involves a lavish masquerade party aboard a dirigible during an electrical storm, which Angela secretly and anonymously attends with the dual purpose of enticing her man back and humiliating her homewrecking hussy of a rival, impressively and out-of-characteristically attired to the hilt in a spectacular Art Deco gown consisting of what appears to be a sheer body stocking with strategically placed bits of fabric over the torso to cover up the naughty, well, bits. Along with a masque and faux French accent, she completely fools her husband and all the guests into believing she is her alter ego, "Madame Satan," and achieves what she set out to do!
Regarding the actors: Kay Johnson (Angela Brooks)--Granted, she does play her part (or rather, parts) competently, but Johnson doesn't have much screen presence and she's quite homely with her long, large banana nose and small, plain, hard eyes (altho' this likely lends more credence to her role--her unsightly looks along with her character's stuffy outlook, make it understable as to why Bob readily and enthusiastically strays). Reginald Denny (Bob Brooks, and no, Denny is not the unlucky Reginald of the L.A. riots infamy) is handsome enough and makes a likable cad, but he's rather bland and also is "expendable." Far more interesting and "impressive" (tho' that's not hard to be considering the company they're in) are Roland Young as Bob's friend James Wade, since he's given most of the "funny stuff" to do; and particularly Lillian Roth (yes, the Lillian Roth of Susan Hayward's "I'll Cry Tomorrow")--she exhibits a catchy screen presence as the feisty, amoral party-girl Trixie. BTW, I was wondering about Roth's exact ethnic background as she has a distinctively marked, appealing mulatto look to her face.
As mentioned before, about the 1st half is an unexceptional bedroom farce, with comic scenes that are initially amusing but soon wear thin (e.g. James' constant, cloddish noise-making as he and Bob attempt to silently sneak back into Bob's house with Angela just a few yards away; James and Trixie's "pretend" marriage and their scene in the bed with Angela's interruptions; and the scene where James tries to stall Bob from entering Trixie's room). The 2nd half of the film is infinitely worth waiting for--the crazy costumes, the static and plodding but memorably weird "Electricity" musical number (replete with lightning bolt accents and enough silvery, bright costumes glary enough to practically blind the eyes) and the downed dirigible disaster. The scene where a young female guest lands on the roof of a high building, holding onto a large weathervane after parachuting down, and pleads to a fellow male guest floating down, to help her, whereupon he responds, "I'm just passing through," is an amusing one. Surely one of the strangest mainstream, old movies you'll ever see. It certainly was for me!
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