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Wealthy socialite Letty Lynton is returning to New York, abandoning one-tine lover Emile Renaul in South America, when she strikes up a shipboard romance with Jerry Darrow. Renault is waiting for her in New York and will not leave her alone, so she poisons him. When detectives take her to the D.A.s office, Jerry cooks up an alibi. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
This is one of those "mythic" films, the 1932 Joan Crawford vehicle not available anywhere, not even for TV broadcasting, because it's been in a legal tangle for decades and decades; the film in which Crawford wore one of the most famous outfits ever displayed on screen, a beautiful Adrian creation, a white evening dress which was copied in its time and sold to eager female fans in Department Stores along the United States.
In this glossy film, Crawford plays the title role, a rich and spoiled heiress, who's been living the "wild life" in Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay with debonair man-of-the-world Emile Rénaul, played by Nils Asther only to regret it when clean-cut Jerry Darrow (Robert Montgomery) comes into her life.
This is a star-vehicle all the way, with Crawford being photographed in the most ravishing poses, positions, from the best angles; much care was put in the in the lighting and her make-up & wardrobe. Perhaps this is one of the films in which I've seen Crawford at her prettiest and sexiest, wearing a chain of exquisite, sophisticated Adrian designed evening dresses and suits, furs et al, all carefully designed to conceal her broad shoulders, which later became a trademark of hers. At this time she had not fully developed into the dramatic actress she later became, but in spite of some heavy melodramatics, her performance is good.
Her co-star Robert Montgomery has little to do in comparison but being well-bred and nice and he is good, as usual, at it. Nils Asther is the "heavy" here and being a Swedish, believably interprets an European, evil, magnate who doesn't want Letty let go; maybe his style of playing the continental lover (sometimes displaying heavy emoting) may seem somewhat artificial to modern audiences, but in all he's OK as the villain, considering it was filmed in 1932.
One of the greatest rewards of the films is watching seasoned pros as Lewis Stone, May Robson, Louise Closser-Hale and Emma Dunn playing expertly their secondary roles. Robson is magnificent as Crawford's long-suffering dowager mother; Closser-Hale endearing as Crawford's loving personal traveling companion and maid; Emma Dunn, very sweet as Montgomery's mother and Lewis Stone at his usual "knows-best" as a D.A.
It is a shame that this film is not available for everybody to see, because it's good and part of America's Cinematic inheritance and history and should not be prevented from airing because of some 70 years-old legal entanglement. I'm grateful of having had the chance of buying a fair-quality copy from a private collector, but I would like to have the chance of seeing a sharp, clear, pristine transfer of the notorious "Letty Lynton".
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