The legendary Mae Murray is a fascinating train wreck in HIGH STAKES, a little B film film about a cloying, baby-talking woman (Murray) who marries an "older man" while she carries on an affair. The older man's "kid brother" is a failed playwright (Lowell Sherman) who seems to stay happily soused throughout the film.
But soused or not, Sherman picks up on a series of clues and investigates the woman and her friend, discovering they are scam artists with a history of bilking rich millionaire.
A slight plot but well enough done. Sherman is excellent. He had a long acting career on stage, in silent films, and in talkies (although he died in 1934 at age 49). He was also a distinguished director. Here he plays the deceptively drunken Joe beautifully. He is dismissed by everyone as a failure but his loyalty to his older brother and his street smarts make him a clever and enjoyable character.
On the other hand, Mae Murray is just plain awful in this film. At age 42, she plays a character who is supposedly 32 pretending to be 22! Murray does this awful baby-talk routine and can't pronounce her Rs. She played the same kind of character in BACHELOR APARTMENT (also with Lowell Sherman). She skips and preens and calls her husband Daddy. Is it an act? Is it the real Mae Murray? For a brief few minutes, she drops the baby act after she is exposed and displays a tough and bitter side that seems to better suit the 42-year-old star. But because Murray made only 3 talkies, it's hard to tell what's really going on with her act.
Good support from Edward Martindel as the duped husband, Karen Morley as the secretary, Leyland Hodgson as DeSalta, and Charles Coleman as the butler.
Mae Murray was a major star of the teens and 20s. It's too bad she was all washed up by 1931. Lowell Sherman should be rediscovered as an actor and director.
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