|Index||9 reviews in total|
A fascinating curio, Impatient Maiden reveals director James Whales'
style as well as his personal evasiveness.
This slice-of-life romantic drama concerns one Ruth Robbins, effectively portrayed by Mae Clark. By day, a secretary to a divorce attorney, Ruth brushes up against life one broken marriage at a time. At home, a neighbor's wife attempts suicide when her husband leaves her and it's left to Ruth to summon an ambulance. So when ambulance driver Myron Brown sparks Ruth's interest, Ruth's own cynical attitudes become her biggest obstacle. Distain for marriage and having personal obstacles were themes which may have found resonance to the personally challenged James Whale. He presents his tableau in matter-of-fact style, without undue emphases: Ruth's lonely plight is just something she does everyday.
Lew Ayers [pre-Kildare] as Myron Brown displays a natural ease in his role, and with Whale blocking for him he'll never look better. Supporting roles are well cast. An early Andy Devine keeps the dramatic tone from sinking. On the distaff side, an ebullient Una Merkel is on hand to perk up Ruth. Great casting and solid performances maintain a balance that makes this film more "accessible" than others of this ilk.
The presentation is smartly handled, too. A Whale trademark was a scene transition that followed characters from room to room by tracking the camera through the wall. Though the end of the wall gets a close-up, the viewer's perception is priority. Rose walks from one end of her apartment to the other and in one shot the limits of her 3 room flat are established. Indeed, the film opens with an establishing sequence when Rose leaves for work. In a location shot, she quits her flat into a rundown neighborhood and boards Angel's Flight. She continues her conversation as Arthur Edeson's camera boards and rides down a piece of history. The viewer gets a real feel for what Ruth's life is like.
The attraction between Ruth and Myron is advanced and retracted like waves on the beach. Love can't catch a break until the last reel. Elusive love, what fun the chase is, especially in this film. Recommended.
What an odd film for James Whale to follow up "Frankenstein"
This is a strange little romantic drama, about a woman in love with a young doctor. Because he can't support her financially he leaves her,and she becomes a "kept" woman when she takes up with her wealthy lawyer boss.
At once cynical and romantic, it's hard to work out what the point of the whole thing is. Una Merkel is lots of fun though, and Ethel Griffies nearly steals the picture. And the young and beautiful Lew Ayres is lovingly filmed by Whale. The film also demonstrates what a fine actress Mae Clarke was, and how she deserved better material as she grew older.
In all an unusual and entertaining film from a great director, but also a baffling one.
Clara Bow, the famous sexy flapper, was on her way down as a movie
star. Universal was able to arrange with Paramount to get her on loan.
Universal had bought the rights to a novel, 'The Impatient Virgin",
which, back then, was very juicy, practically pornographic. (It
wouldn't be now). Universal expected to make a fortune with that
When she saw the script, La Bow bowed out. Too sexy. The script was made especially for her. Bow was a oner. Exeunt Bow, exeunt the story.
When the script, which followed the book closely, was submitted to the MPPDA, the self-censoring body of the major studios, the organization immediately banned the word 'virgin'. They suggested 'maiden' instead.
They advised against nearly the entire script. The film was assigned to two other directors before James Whale was forced to direct it. He didn't want to, he wasn't interested in it.
The Hays office, which is the MPPDA, advised them to take the heat out of the script. They did. It became a different story, and there was not a single scene in it which was actually hot. (There is a seduction. I won't say if it came off or not).
Whale didn't get along with the star, Lew Ayres. Ayres had made a bunch of movies in the last two years, but he still didn't know his craft. Whale never gave him any advice. He hardly spoke to Ayres.
Still the film garnered some friction. A censor board cut out the main part of the appendectomy scene. It said the seduction was all right.
The film died a quick death, did not get much business in the big city venues, was not re-released, and never made it into Europe.
The review from the New York Times, titled 'A Naive Melodrama', by A. D. S., March 4, 1932 says in part:
Everything it has to say is in the title.
On the whole there seems nothing James Whale, the talented director of "Frankenstein" and "Journey's End," could have done about this one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Oddly enough this was slated to be a Clara Bow vehicle (and she would
have brought some much needed vivaciousness to the role) but after her
breakdown, Mae Clarke was handed the prize part (she had just worked
with James Whale in "Frankenstein"). The press once again predicted
instant stardom for this superlative actress who just never quite
clicked. I thought Mae and Lew Ayres made a terrific team in "Night
World" but in this one I thought they were a little too world weary.
Ruth Robbin (Clarke) is a secretary to a suave divorce lawyer (John Halliday) and what she sees behind office doors is slowly turning her off men for life. In her apartment block it's the same, a fight between her neighbours in the morning results in a suicide attempt that night. Ruth saves the woman and calls an ambulance - which throws her together with a young doctor Myron (Lew Ayres) who is just as cynical about married life as she is.
Clarke and Ayres make a very cute couple but cute as a button Una Merkel is the reason to see this movie. She is so vibrant she dominates every scene as Alabama Betty, Ruth's dizzy flatmate, who is an A1 cook with a yen for the "gentleman nurse" (Andy Devine). It would have been a real treat to see her work side by side with Clara Bow. There were a lot of movies bought for Bow that she didn't get to do but I think she would have been super as Ruth and I could hear her saying a lot of those lines plus adding some much needed pathos and emotion to her part. She would have really held her own with Una and not let herself be subdued by Una's snappy personality.
Things take a dramatic turn when Ruth breaks things off with Myron and lets herself be talked into accepting the lease of a very nice apartment by her boss who lives in the same building. Wrong impressions are formed and Ruth goes back to living in a run down flat when an attack of appendicitis occurs - I just wonder who the doctor will be who will perform the emergency operation???
I thought this was an uneven comedy-drama, the print I saw was patchy which may have influenced my feelings. It would have been right up Clara's alley - it's a pity she wasn't able to do it.
Coming between the horror classics FRANKENSTEIN (1931) and THE OLD DARK
HOUSE (1932), this is all the more disappointing for a Whale movie; in
fact, I would say it is even drearier than his worst-regarded effort
i.e. THEY DARE NOT LOVE (1941)! The film seems undecided whether it
wants to be a comedy or a drama: second leads Una Merkel and Andy
Devine are positively irritating but, then, protagonists Mae Clarke and
Lew Ayres both off acclaimed dramatic showcases, she in Whale's own
WATERLOO BRIDGE (1931) and he in the Oscar-wining WWI masterpiece ALL
QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1930) do not exactly set the screen on
fire (incidentally, his doctor role proved prophetic since he would
eventually incarnate Dr. Kildare in a long-running series of 'B'
To be fair to it, though, the narrative is very typical of the time with Clarke a secretary in an office dealing with divorce cases (a timely and very hot topic over here at the moment, since Malta is one of only 2 countries in the world which has still not implemented it!) who yearns for romance. She meets Ayres when he is called to pick up an attempted suicide at her tenement house, but their relationship runs far from smoothly while her dumb pal Merkel falls head-over-heels for his gawky nurse Devine! The trouble concerns both her ageing but suave employer John Halliday's attentions (he even buys her a swank apartment and there is a suggestion that he seduces clients as well!) and Ayres' low income (he is still a student); of course, the two eventually get together in melodramatic fashion when he has to operate on Clarke due to her suffering from acute appendicitis! Incidentally, despite the title, along the way it is Ayres who does most of the pursuing in one scene, he phones her up twice in the middle of the night (from an uncredited Walter Brennan's bar!) after having just been with her and then presents himself at her doorstep yet again!
Unfortunately, the copy I acquired is of very poor quality being generally hazy and missing frames, as well as featuring picture loss and extremely dark night-time sequences; that said, it ran some 7 minutes longer than the official 72-minute length given on IMDb: go figure!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Taking a look at auteur film maker James Whale's IMDb page after seeing
his sadly forgotten follow-up to All Quiet on the Western Front,I was
surprised to discover,that Whale's had directed a film between his
well-known Horror movies Frankenstein and The Old Dark House.Looking
round on Amazon Uk,I was disappointed to find that the flick had not
come out on DVD/Video.Talking to a DVD seller a few weeks later,I was
delighted to receive the news that he had been able to track down a
copy of the title,which led to me getting ready to finally meet the
Returning to her flat after spending the entire day working in the divorce office,secretary Ruth Robbins is shocked to discover that her friend Betty Merrick has left the gas on,and has caused a fellow resident of the tower block to become seriously ill.Ringing up for a doctor, Dr. Myron Brown and Clarence Howe rush to the tower block,and treat the patient at the scene.Taken by the care that Brown and Howe show towards the patient,Robbins and Merrick begin to ask if they would both like to go out with them.Whilst Howe is delighted with Merrick's invitation,Brown finds himself having serious doubts over if he could balance his working life,with a settled down,romantic relationship with Robbins.
View on the film:
While the DVD did sadly not offer a sparkling transfer, (with the picture sometimes fading into near black,and the soundtrack having more "hiss" than a box full of snakes!)director James Whale's stylish directing was still able to shine from out of the darkness,with Whale and cinematographer expertly using long tracking shots to subtly reveal Whale's theme of the working class seeing an opportunity to go up the class system in their sights,but finding everyone around them to be determined in bringing them down.Along with the stylised shots of Robbins apartment,Whale also shows a gleefully comedic streak,thanks to Whale smartly using Brown's low- lit hospital as a place to roll out some Comedy Horror riffs.
Adapting Donald Henderson Clarke's novel The Impatient Virgin,the screenplay by Richard Schayer, Winifred Dunn and James Mulhauser is never able to fully decide on if it is a sly Pre-Code,or if it is a far too optimistic Drama.Giving strong hints that the society that Robbins and Merrick are in is one that views single women as being "easy",the writers release the film with daring,suggestive dialogue which scatters across the screen,as Robbins goes from finding a work mate getting a little too close to her,to Brown pushing aside every advance that she tries to make.
With the movie having sharp dialogue running across it,the writers take the rather strange decision of making sure that every sting in the lines snaps back to an ill- fitting,building romance,which destroys the sting in the punchlines,and leads to the ending being on a disappointingly happy note.
Tip-toeing over the sickly sweet nature of her character,the pretty Una Merkel gives a remarkable performance as Merrick,thanks to Merkel showing a growing warmth towards Robbins,and also showing a genuine delight in her great comedy scenes with a very good Andy Devine as Clarence Howe.Showing a great sense of maturity in the role,the beautiful Mae Clarke gives an excellent performance as Ruth Robbins,with Clarke showing Robbins cynical views to be wiped from her life,the moment she becomes a patient maiden to Dr Myron Brown.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The problems of a Los Angeles medical intern and his girlfriend are
documented in this pre-code drama which pre-dated Lew Ayres' debut as
Dr. Kildare by six years. She won't marry him until he's established in
private practice and goes to work for the lecherous John Halliday, one
of those businessmen whose requests for late night dictation includes
more than the secretary's notebook. After catching James Cagney's
grapefruit in the puss in "The Public Enemy", Mae Clarke had a short-
lived attempt at leading lady, but was soon back to supporting roles
over lack of success. Ayres, a heartthrob after "All Quiet on the
Western Front", was at the right age for this part, but would be better
served when MGM cast him in a series of medical dramas where he created
film history as one of the oldest interns in film history. Comparisons
to the Kildare series can be made here thanks to the presence of Oscar
Apfel as the older doctor who mentors him and Ethel Griffies as the
This dull soaper has uninteresting leading characters in an unbelievable plot. Even with the artistic guiding hand of the legendary James Whale, this fails to be a memorable film. Fortunately, there are some great character performers, which includes an unbilled Hattie McDaniel and the always scene-stealing Cecil Cunningham. Una Merkel and Andy Devine offer attempted comic relief in several of their screen appearances together. An interesting shot of the downtown Los Angeles incline opens the film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one for curio collectors. Long before he was top man at Blair General Lew Ayres, late of the Western Front, was trying out a prototype of Dr Kildaire for James Whale, late of Frankenstein. A bolt through the neck might have done everyone some good. This time around we have Redbook crossed with The Lancet as heroine manque Mae Clark falls for Ayres who feels he can't support her leaving her free to play mistress for her lawyer boss. Una Merkel and Andy Devine play the comedy relief couple and Devine in particular shows what he can do with a relatively straight role though it would be a good twenty years plus before Jack Webb allowed him to do it again in Pete Kelly's Blues. As was to be expected for the time everyone went to bed happy.
Although I have always thought Lew Ayres was a fine actor, here he's
one of his worst films...mostly because the script is rather second-
rate. I also found Una Merkel (again, someone I usually like in films)
played a rather annoying character. As a result, I think it's a movie
you could easily just skip.
When the film begins, Ruth (Mae Clark) and her dopey friend (Merkel) meet a dopey ambulance driver (Andy Devine) and a young doctor working on his internship at the hospital (Ayres). The Doc and Ruth fall for each other...but their relationship later sours. Towards the end of the film, Ruth is dying and apparently there's no one else in the entire hospital who can operate on her other than her ex-boyfriend, the Doc (it was JUST an inflamed appendix)!! Will she pull through...and will we care?
Una is clearly there as comic relief and her character just comes on way too strong with the stupid act. Fortunately, she's mostly in the first half of the film. As for Devine, he's actually pretty restrained and much better in the same sort of role. But the plot is so soapy and silly that I never found myself caring much about what happened to Ruth or any of them. A misfire.
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