In September 1928, Warner Bros. Pictures purchased a majority interest in First National Pictures and from that point on, all "First National" productions were actually made under Warner Bros. control, even though the two companies continued to retain separate identities until the mid-1930's, after which time "A Warner Bros.-First National Picture" was often used. See more »
It's a credit to silent screen star Billie Dove that she actually manages to keep Kay Francis from walking away with this movie. It's a great role for Kay, as the lecherous Countess Balakireff, with some killer dialogue ("I never noticed you had pale blue eyes before. I hate pale blue eyes").
Dove, as heiress Patricia Hanley, elopes with starving violinist Paul Gherardi (Basil Rathbone), throwing away her family, fortune and fiancé in the process. Gherardi promptly begins an affair with the predatory Balakireff, as well as achieving fame and what is apparently a load of cash. When Balakireff throws over Gherardi, he suffers a nervous breakdown and is tended to by Dr. Alan Pomeroy, (Kenneth Thomson) Mrs. Gherardi's former fiancé.
Rathbone tries hard -- in fact, it's amazing that he remained so trim with the amount of scenery he was chewing. But Dove and Francis steal the movie from him effortlessly. It's the lovely Dove, with her luminous eyes, and the ravishing Francis that raise this film above the typical precode programmer.
Special credit goes to Thomson, who comes off as a complete loser in the opening scenes, only to return in the latter part of the film as a credible potential love interest. Also noteworthy is the gown Francis wears in the Christmas Carol scene, with a neckline that plunges to her waist.
The plot here is thin, but the team of Dove and Francis make it an interesting diversion.
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