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A bored Baroness discovers love & excitement when she becomes caught up
in a thrilling JEWEL ROBBERY.
Scintillating, light as air and slightly naughty, this pre-Code charmer will delight discriminating viewers looking for a sophisticated comedy, a little trifle with which to while away an idle hour. Thievery, marijuana and infidelity--while very serious subjects--are here satirized almost to the point of insignificance. The whole purpose of this forgotten film--which compares nicely with the best of Lubitsch--is to provide the audience with a good time, and in that it succeeds quite admirably.
Beautiful Kay Francis is enchanting, her cool demeanor barely concealing the mischievous passions just below her elegant surface. Very bored with her wealthy but unattractive husband (Henry Kolker), she yearns for a more exciting life. Gentlemanly thief William Powell provides that opportunity. Suave & debonair, he instantly makes the viewer forgive his regrettable vocation. As a twosome, the stars bring just the right frisson of pleasure to their scenes to please all but the most jaded viewer.
The supporting cast further adds to the film's fine distillation. Hardie Albright as Francis' admirer & Helen Vinson as her friend both portray willing partakers of Old Vienna's hedonistic lifestyle. Spencer Charters is very humorous as a completely incompetent night watchman. Sour Clarence Wilson plays a police official, while Alan Mowbray shines in his few minutes as a no-nonsense detective.
Movie mavens will recognize rotund Robert Greig as a chauffeur, tobacco-eating George Davis as a police secretary & the wonderful Ruth Donnelly as Miss Francis' maid--all uncredited.
This is one of the raciest films of the 1930's. A married woman is having affairs all over the place, and then is willingly seduced by a gallant jewel thief. The movie just drips with illicit sex - you've got to see this one to believe it. Damn the Production Code for stopping films like this! Wavising Kay Fwancis has never been better!
This is a sparkling and witty fantasy about a pampered society dame (Kay Francis) who has become aware of the hollowness of her life and a dapper jewel thief (William Powell) who steals her treasures and awakens her from her golden tedium. I call it a "fantasy" because, sadly, we've become too aware of how real crime and criminals work. There's no effort to conceal faces, the robbery crew addresses each other by first name, Powell plays soothing music and engages in witty banter with those he's robbing, but nonetheless it's very entertaining to watch. Another odd aspect of this unusual film is that Powell gives his victims marijuana cigarettes to smoke, to make them passive and jovial. This is one of those pre-code films from that tiny window where sound had come in, the depression was on and the Production Codes weren't re-writing movies like Jewel Robbery. See it when you can. Like the object of it's main character obsession, it is truly a gem.
"Jewel Robbery" reflects the comic virtuosity of actors and actresses - and
directors - in an eclectic Hollywood too soon to be stifled by THE Code.
Kay Francis, little known to most movie buffs today, sparkles as a
liberated, adventuresome and bored wife of a doting, not doddering exactly,
but boring rich hubby. Apparently only his largess keeps her hitched and
she seems quite open about looking for some exciting liaisons and she ain't
talking about platonic ones either. The sexual innuendos aren't subtle.
Neither are they serious.
William Powell is a suave and quick-witted gentleman jewel thief. In one sentence he dismisses the violence of his American counterparts, asserting the urbane civility of the European high class criminal.
"Reefer Madness," one of Hollywood's all-time great comedies, came out in 1937. In 1932 Powell, the jewel thief, dispenses marijuana cigarettes left and right and although the name is never used, the goofy behavior of the smokers prefigures the exaggerated and demonic grass-induced St. Vitus dance of the later documentary.
A short, sprightly comedy where crime is neither dangerous nor particularly even objectionable, "Jewel Robbery" is a small gem from a long bygone Hollywood. If you can rent it, do so. You won't be disappointed.
William Powell is a smooth jewel thief who captivates Kay Francis in
"Jewel Robbery," a 1932 film made before the dreaded code kicked in.
Set in Vienna, Francis plays a baroness who, like her friends, has
married a dull man for money and takes lovers. While her husband is
buying her a 28-carat diamond and she's arguing with her boyfriend,
William Powell and his team enter to rob the store. It's love at first
This is a slight but very amusing film, interesting for the racy story line, the outfits, and Kay Francis herself. A very unusual-looking woman, Francis' heyday was in the '30s, and everything about her screamed '30s, of course - her hair, her fashions, and the kind of films she made. She's somewhat frozen in time there. Powell is his usual dashing, delightful self, and the two work very well together. The scene at Powell's place is particularly interesting, as she demands not to be asked to do anything, but to be forced, at which point, he picks her up and throws her onto his huge bed. "But there are so many pleasant in between steps," she objects.
A delightful movie, not terribly long, but fascinating given the era in film in which it was made.
This is a wonderful companion to TROUBLE IN PARADISE, also featuring the immortal and neglected Kay Francis; it features the great William Powell in one of his most unrivaled moments on screen. Another great one from Dieterle who also directed the American classic DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER, which was recently released on DVD. Be nice to see this other classic of his become available. I viewed this on TCM and was entranced by the sparkling dialog; I wondered again why this effect seems impossible to achieve nowadays - was it that so many of these early actors had honed their talents on the stage? I would like to see this released on a disc with HIGH PRESSURE, another early Powell.
Snappy and very different movie set in Vienna with Kay Francis bored with her husband, her lover, and her life. She confides to a friend that she wishes for some excitement. Enter William Powell, exhibiting characteristics that made him great in the Thin Man series. He is exciting, witty, and charming - if also a thief and the leader of a very large and organized gang. The robbery of the jewel store is something else with Powell convincing the security guard to take out two bags to the car outside and playing Viennese music on a record player to keep the victims calm. To engineer his get away, Powell offers the victims either a smoke from a drugged cigarette (never named) or a short stay in the vault. Kay is offered a third alternative to be taken to the suburbs and deposited unharmed but she elects to stay in the store and not turn in the alarm. After all, Powell has just made her the toast of the social scene for the foreseeable future as the victim of such a daring robbery - why would she give the alarm? A few twists, turns, surprises towards the end, as Kay eventually decides whether to chose excitement or security. The relationship between Kay Francis and William Powell is the movie. Will she take what she has wished for? Lots of overt mention of sleeping around - a rather sad commentary on the state of matrimony in the upper classes at the time. Very good (but not great), very different for a mainstream movie, recommended because it is so different.
"Jewel Robbery" is a movie made by grown-ups, written for grown-ups and
starring grown-ups. This one almost qualifies as a costumer as everyone
is in 'evening dress', this being 1932. It aired on TCM the other
morning and I can't tell you what a refreshing break it was from what
passes for modern comedy.
Do you like William Powell? Here he was never more debonair and urbane, not even in his Philo Vance pictures or as Nick Charles. Are you familiar with Kay Francis? She was so - what's the word - 'feminine' will do. Yes, that's perfect. And together they were perfect in this Pre-Code comedy which keeps you waiting for the next exchange of delicious dialogue.
He is a gentleman thief and she is a bored wife looking for excitement, adventure, etc. The story is clever enough but the script is the thing here. Truly, they don't make films like this anymore. Adam Sandler, you have no clue, son. This is sophisticated stuff.
'Jewel Robbery' is only the 2nd picture I have given a 9 to, and it was richly deserved.
This film has to be on the short list of films-that-epitomize-pre-code-Hollywood. Adultery, drugs, crime, flaunting of morals and convention, free-spirit thumbing their nose, all done with humour and glamour. One can understand why the church was upset! Problem was that there were many films that played on these themes so it must have seemed that Hollywood was really out to corrupt the world. This one has the full package but with a wink and smoothness that today's garbage film-makers would never have the patience to pull-off. Too bad the code swung the pendulum way too far in the other direction. A must-see for Francis and Powell fans.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Decidedly un PC precode film would probably get a PG 13 today, perhaps,
maybe even an R rating, depending on how the ratings board viewed
William Powell giving people wacky weed...
Set in Vienna the ultra rich wife of a baron goes to a jewelry store after hours in order to shop with her husband. While there one of a string of daring robberies occur, perpetrated by the ever dashing William Powell and his henchmen. Powell and the married woman are drawn together and Powell later turns up at her place...and as it is I've said too much. Wild and as off beat as they come, this is one of those wonderfully strange films that Hollywood was churning out in the days before the Motion Picture Code was actually enforced. Its not often you get a lead character who is a happy trollop, near nudity, drug use, adultery, hints of illicit sex, a wicked sense of humor, the bad guy getting away, and I don't know what else all in 68 minutes? When my friend Lou mentioned his disbelief at what he was seeing while watching this film, I told him I had to see it as well. The film was, what he said and more. Its clear why this film isn't better known, its because the censors in Hollywood wouldn't let it be screened. Its a shame because the film is actually quite good and amusing. It has some genuine laughs, some plot twists you've not seen before and a wonderful sense of being alive. Its a genuinely fun film. I don't think its perfect, its a bit too talky in the way that films from the period often are, and the film's heroine is really a self centered twit of the sort that inhabits many of todays prime time shows like Gossip Girl or their ilk. At the same time its a must see for anyone who loves old movies, or anyone who thinks old movies are passé and out of touch with reality. This is a unique experience.
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