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William A. Wellman
Edward G. Robinson,
This relic from before the days of the Production Code and the Hays Office is good fun, not great but entertaining.
Based on a song by Rogers & Hart that was an enormous hit at the time, the story revolves around dance hall girl Barbara Stanwyck who is romanced by wealthy businessman Ricardo Cortez (who was indecently handsome), but whose heart belongs to her bookish neighbor Monroe Owsley. She and Owsley marry, but keep it a secret, while she dismisses Cortez, who still holds out hope. She helps hubby get a job in Cortez's company, but married bliss quickly turns sour as Owsley develops a taste for the high life and steps out with a college sweetheart and gambles in high-stakes bridge (Yup! I know, it's pretty funny....). Finally he embezzles $5,000 from Cortez, and is about to go on the lam, when his devoted wife goes to Cortez....and I won't reveal anything else, although the ending was certainly a surprise.
Stanwyck is the best thing about this movie; in one of her earliest roles she's quite accomplished. Owsley is the weak point; he's unattractive and sniveling, while Cortez is amazingly suave and sexy, while his performance is earnest but unremarkable.
While ostensibly a drama, it's filled with laughs, many inadvertant as some elements of this movie have aged very poorly. But there are a lot of good witty lines; at one point Stanwyck says to Cortez, "My brains are in my feet, while yours are in...." That's pretty darn suggestive for 1931! There's a lot of bawdy and suggestive stuff in this flick, in the last days before the Code clamped down and whitewashed everything. An amusing antique, a good reminder of how far we haven't come in 70 years....this story could very easily be changed to fit 2003 but could keep the basic plot, with the original ending, in place.
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