Character actor Michael Shannon has been nominated for his second Oscar for his role in the 2016 thriller Nocturnal Animals. "No Small Parts" takes a look at some of the other characters he's played in the past.
Seriously ill, concert pianist Karen Duncan is admitted to a Swiss sanitorium. Despite being attracted to Dr Tony Stanton she ignores his warnings of possibly fatal consequences unless she ... See full summary »
André De Toth
During the Great Depression, a wealthy banker throws away his wife's expensive fur coat; it lands on the head of a stenographer, leading to everyone assuming she is his mistress and has access to his millions.
Dowdy Sylvia accepts her boss' marriage proposal, even though he only asked her to avoid marriage to another woman. As a wealthy wife, Sylvia changes from ugly duckling to uninhibited swan ... See full summary »
Blue collar steelworker Richard Brunton (McCrea) saves two of his fellow workers after an accident at a factory. In gratitude, his boss, millionaire Arthur Parker invites Richard for dinner with his family. Arthur's daughter Dot (Mackaill) is instantly impressed and infatuated with Richard She vows to marry him within a month.She does but Richard's seeming good luck is short-lived when he discovers how spoiled and selfish Dot really is, draining his finances dry in her greed, and he becomes Dot's "kept husband." Richard eventually convinces her to settle down and be happy on his humble salary. Written by
Smart, modern, well-acted and refreshingly credible by 1931 standards
Last week I watched Joel McCrea turn in an absolutely stunning performance in Merian Cooper and Earnest Schoedsack's brilliant 1932 thriller, "THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME" and again he reminds me here of just what an underrated actor he was during the Golden Age of Hollywood. His natural blond good looks (he pioneered surfing during the sport's early days in Los Angeles) and extremely competent acting on the heels of his residency at the nearby Pasadena Playhouse stand out in stark contrast to other leading men in an era when Billy Haines, George Arliss and Ramon Navarro were still representing America's young marrieds getting into jams as they get on their feet in the early days of The Great Depression. Dorothy Mackaill has the tricky job of playing a spoiled brat who is also in many ways by 2004 standards a modern woman whose doting industrialist father isn't making her emancipation any easier--but she pulls it off, and we wind up liking her! Sounding a little at first like one of the most outlandish stars of the day, Paramount's Mae West knock-off Peggy Hopkins Joyce, Mackaill proceeds to give a spot-on performance that represents some of the most natural acting I have seen out of anyone from the early talkies era; her knows-what-she-wants character Dot is effected flawlessly. I forgot that I was watching an actress perform, so finely tuned is her sense of timing. An Ex-Follies girl who came to the US from England at the age of 18, she is at ease before the camera, apparently aware of the fine line she is walking in a part which few other performers from that shaky time in the industry would have been able to master with such seamless grace. I am surprised and disappointed that her film career was in its twilight and that soon thereafter she would be serving full-time as a caregiver to her disabled mother. The writing and direction are both deserving of praise here, as well. The intelligent dialogue (including the contemporary slang, which I find fascinating whenever I can find it) stands the test of time remarkably well: it is real, never banal or contrived despite the familiar conflicted Depression-era highbrow-working class storyline aspect. When Dot asks her father to pay her new husband $50,000 a year, the kindly industrialist explains that he cannot comply, reasoning quite correctly that "it would hurt the organization"--having served a hitch in B-school, I liked that wise old man and contemporary manager right off the bat! Motherhood receives a tender treatment and ever so effectively. The lighting has a definite early Warners'-First National look to it. Sound recording, almost always a liability in those days, is accomplished neatly, as is the makeup: lips appear to be real rather than painted on and during the proposal scene McCrea's wholesome tan face appears not only untouched but luminescent. Rarely have the actors of 1931 looked quite so good. Helpful Trivia: At the time of production, Miss Mackaill was 28; cowpuncher McCrea, 25.
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