The First Year was a 1920 play that originally ran on Broadway at the Little Theatre. The play was written by Frank Craven and produced by John Golden. It closed in 1922 after 760 ...
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The First Year was a 1920 play that originally ran on Broadway at the Little Theatre. The play was written by Frank Craven and produced by John Golden. It closed in 1922 after 760 performances. In 1932, a film adapted from the Craven play was written by Lynn Starling. The film starred Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, and was directed by William K. Howard. Gaynor and Farrell made almost a dozen films together, including Frank Borzage's classics Seventh Heaven (1927), Street Angel (1928), and Lucky Star (1929); Gaynor won the first Academy Award for Best Actress for the first two and F. W. Murnau's Sunrise (1927).
Janet Gaynor goes against type in this one, playing an unsympathetic character who's completely self-absorbed. Her character has the hots for another man, but for some reason still ends up marrying Charles Farrell. She then spends the rest of the movie nudging and nagging him to get rich so she can live her dream of traveling the world, and when he seems to fail, doubts and undercuts him.
The crux of the film is a sequence involving preparation for a dinner for Farrell's business associate and then the dinner itself. The film is based on a stage play of which presumably this was the main act. During it, Farrell & Gaynor's characters squabble amongst themselves, whining and complaining about everything, giving a most unglamorous impression of what it's like to be married after the first year, when the honeymoon's over. Also appearing in this scene is the fun Minna Gombell as the wise-cracking wife of Farrell's business associate. The scene also features a white actress in black-face portraying a slow maid, Leila Bennett, who was Loretta Young's friend in the Cagney vehicle "Taxi!" (1932).
A different type of role for Gaynor, and the squabbling, unsympathetic portrait of a year old marriage, make this an interesting movie. The only thing missing is a comeuppance for Gaynor's character; despite being a bitch, she still gets to live happily ever after!
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