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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 »
Clever plot, but with a style somewhat leftover from the silent era
This film has a mix of silent crossover stars and sound stars recruited from Broadway. It is mainly interesting as one of the few sound films in which silent actress Billie Dove has a leading role, with her leaving films entirely in 1932. Warner Brothers didn't do the film any favors either, having produced the film the year before in 1930 when sound was still somewhat a novelty and letting it sit on the shelf for six months. By that time its plot and pace made it look like a museum piece, but still it's worth a look.
Billie Dove plays Margaret Townsend, the somewhat neglected wife of American consulate Charles Townsend who is always busy giving speeches to the Chamber of Commerce or some other such group in the South American country where they are stationed. Thus when handsome stranger Jack Norton (Conway Tearle) comes along and pays her a little bit of attention, Margaret can't help being flattered. Then there is Julianne Boone-Fleming (Judith Vosselli), a society woman who befriends Margaret yet looks like a femme fatale who is up to something nefarious- she is. And when I say she "looks like a femme fatale" I mean literally that. Poor Ms. Vosselli is dressed up like a 1930 version of Theda Bara. Also unknown to Margaret, her new friend Jack Norton is being investigated for diamond smuggling and is constantly being shadowed by U.S. Treasury agents.
Also stars Ivan F. Simpson as the Boone-Fleming butler, who was always a favorite supporting actor of George Arliss and who appeared in many of Arliss' films.
The plot is rather interesting with Margeret Townsend as "the lady who dared" not be a victim and even jeopardizes her reputation to do so. She also shows quite a bit of wit in trapping those who would trap her. The problem with this film is that the speech still has that halting style of the very early talkies in which the performers were over-coached into speaking a little too slowly and distinctly. Plus, the Vitaphone musical score is a little overpowering to the point of trying to muscle in on setting the tone of the film.
I'd mainly recommend this to early sound enthusiasts and those interested in Billie Dove in sound films, since not much of her work remains. It is a cross between a drawing room drama and a crime drama.
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