When it was originally released in April 1930, Strictly Unconventional ran 72 minutes, but, by the time it found its way to New York City in July 1930, (for a one day showing on a double bill at Loew's), MGM had cut it to 54 minutes, and this is the version which survives today on Turner Classic Movies. See more »
This film has its weaknesses, starting with its silly title (the original title of the W. Somerset Maugham play it's based on, "The Circle," is better and should have been retained) and some of the ridiculous makeups the actors are forced to wear (Lewis Stone especially it took me a while to discern his familiar features under all that greasepaint and hair cream), but all in all it's a good drawing room comedy/melodrama. Like Oscar Wilde and Noël Coward, Maugham was a (mostly) Gay writer whose sensibility came out (so to speak) in a jaundiced view of heterosexuality, and there are several unusual aspects to this plot including the fascinating twist that 30 years after they did the dashingly romantic thing of running off together without first divorcing their spouses, Lord Porteous (Ernest Torrence) and Lady Champion-Cheney (Alison Skipworth) are as miserable as any married couple could possibly be after that length of time. I'd heard so many bad things about Catherine Dale Owen over the years that it was a surprise to see one of her films and actually find her quite good energetic, high-spirited and fully in command of her role and of course it's also always a treat to see Alison Skipworth, the one person who ever stole a scene from W. C. Fields and the principal villain (a sex-changed version of the Sydney Greenstreet role) in the otherwise pretty dismal second version of "The Maltese Falcon," called "Satan met a Lady." Her costume representing an attempt to dress as a youthful coquette, defying her extra years and bulk is itself a piece of minor film-making genius. David Burton's direction is mostly commonplace but has some inspired moments, notably the animation of the young Lady Champion-Cheney's photo in the album early on. And at only 56 minutes, the film lasts just as long as it needs to for the story it has to tell and isn't padded out to fill extra running time the way so many films are today.
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