|Page 1 of 2:|| |
|Index||12 reviews in total|
This film will certainly surprise fans of Fay Wray as much as it has surprised me (thanks to TCM). For once, she is not the uncomprehending, defiled screaming victim with her clothes torn off by man or beast. She is an articulate and resourceful lawyer. Her (Canadian) diction and poise are admirable and she comes off almost as the prototypical Hitchcock icy blonde heroine. She shows that can she hold her own in any setting, be it drama or comedy. The film also benefits from the charms of the attractive Gene Raymond - saddled here with a boozing, accident-prone mistress - and the technical advances that allowed talkies to progress to an art of their own with a moving camera, well-suited music and decent sound without awkward silences. The story will be considered a bit dated, however, or "of its time" as they say, one of Ms. Wray's court victories consisting in demonstrating that a jilting lover cannot be found guilty of breach of promise for the simple fact that it is impossible for a man to state with any conviction whether his intended has any Black ancestry. It makes for convincing courtroom antics but its conclusion still is: How dare a Black woman expect that a white man should marry her? Gentlemen of the jury, draw your own conclusions. Add to this that her final plea is an impassioned indictment of her own frivolity for pursuing a lawyer's career and neglecting her wifely duties and you will see the many problems this films faces in attaining political correctness. Having said this, the main character's persona is still miles removed from "Legally Blonde".
Ann Carver's Profession (1933)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Entertaining curio from Columbia has Fay Wray playing a wife turned brilliant lawyer who must defend her estranged husband (Gene Raymond) when he is accused of killing a nightclub singer (Claire Dodd). This is an extremely interesting little gem that manages to be entertaining as a film but also because of the way it showed women and race of the time. The husband ends up leaving the wife because she's making more money than him, which is something he's embarrassed about. Seeing a woman work here way up without using sexuality is something else not all that common from films of this era. The way the film views race is another interesting thing because Wray's first big trial is a black woman charged with dating a white man but not telling him she was black. This entire courtroom scene is rather jaw dropping as even blackface doesn't seen as out of date as this sequence. We see the attorney bring in "questionable" black women who might be white. The entire sequence is surreal, strange and certainly something you probably won't see in too many movies. The biggest problem with the film comes in the final ten minutes when the trial of the husband actually starts. The actual ending is a downright disaster but even worse is how we get to that ending with a certain speech inside the court. It was so bad I actually wanted to hit the mute button. Wray turns in a decent performance, although I think she goes a tad bit over the top during some of the court scenes. Raymond, Dodd and the rest of the supporting cast do fine work and the director keeps everything moving at a nice pace. This is yet another forgotten film that popped up on Turner Classic Movies and it's one more should check out as it gives us a rather interesting insight to some rather strange topics.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Feminists who happen to catch this most unusual film will be completely
torn by it. The picture of a very serious career woman who has chosen
the law that Fay Wray gives us is a very good role model. And it's
unusual casting, the role is standard stuff for people like Bette Davis
or Katharine Hepburn, but for an actress who was primarily known for
screaming her way through her ordeal with a giant ape, it's offbeat
casting. We had not gotten to the Legally Blonde era yet and this film
is not a comedy by any means.
Gene Raymond and Fay Wray meet in college, he's the All American football hero who also sings occasionally and is the big man on campus. Wray is beautiful, but serious in pursuing the law. They fall big time for each other and eventually marry.
But away from the campus Raymond loses his glamor and settles into a routine. Wray on the other hand becomes a big success, just the idea of a female lawyer, playing and beating the men regularly makes her the celebrity who just happens to be married to a former All American. That leads to booze, Raymond taking up crooning at a nightclub in the hopes of becoming the next Crosby, Columbo or Vallee and eventual infidelity with Claire Dodd, another singer.
When Raymond is accused of Dodd's murder and in his drunken state he can't provide any account of what happened of course Wray steps into the breach as his defense attorney. I know that Fay Wray must have jumped at this role when Harry Cohn at Columbia offered it. What actor doesn't kill for a courtroom trial drama with a dramatic speech. A couple year earlier Lionel Barrymore got an Oscar for such a role in A Free Soul. Spencer Tracy and Orson Welles delivered memorable courtroom soliloquys in Inherit The Wind and Compulsion respectively. But for a woman to do it? I honestly can't think of another instance of this happening.
And Wray is every bit of eloquent as these gentlemen were in their addresses to the juries. Of course when she says this will be her last trial as she plans to be a stay at home wife now in the tradition of June Cleaver, that does get a bit much. NOW who would be hailing Ann Carver's Profession for its showing of a great feminist role model in Wray, would be staffing the picket lines if the film were ever debuting now.
Ann Carver's Profession with Fay Wray in the title role is a real gem. For those who want to see something other than a screaming Fay Wray, this film shows what a great talent she was. And it's sad to think that her whole career was overshadowed by a make believe 50 foot ape.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Seeing beautiful Claire Dodd's name in the cast meant that Fay Wray is
going to have a few uncomfortable moments, as Claire tries to come
between her and her crooner husband. As sultry singer Carole Rogers she
doesn't succeed in breaking them up but she has a lot of fun trying.
Fay is handed a terrific role and pulls out all stops. She plays Ann
Carver who is working her way through college and a law digress but
gives it all up for marriage with the local football hero Bill Graham
(Gene Raymond). At first she is happy enough to be a housewife but when
she gets into a heated discussion with noted lawyer (Claude
Gillingwater) about just what he is doing wrong in his latest case, she
is given a job. Ann gets a chance to prove herself when she has to take
over a case - a tricky one involving a coloured girl passing for white.
It is all a bit distasteful with the prosecutor citing "only an
imbecile couldn't tell" and after the poor girl is required to reveal a
shoulder, Ann brings in a group of girls to see if the prosecutor is an
imbecile or not!! Her grandstanding ways win the case but also brings
hers fame and notoriety - which she laps up and Bill, who initially was
supportive, now looks around for a better paying job.
He finds it, much to Ann's disgust as a "crooner" in a local night club but he also finds trouble in the form of sultry singer Carole Rogers. When Carole manages to strangle herself in a drunken stupor of course Bill gets the blame and the ending finds Ann, who is defending Bill, making an impassioned speech to the jury members about how much she should have been satisfied with being a housewife but being selfish and unfeeling wanted a career in the spotlight!!!
I hadn't ever thought of Fay Wray as a particularly strong actress but she definitely made the most of her part, in what I thought was an unusual role for a woman at that time, it was usually the men who had these show stopping lawyer parts. Gene Raymond who was signed by Paramount because of his Broadway reputation as the "nearly perfect juvenile" used his blonde good looks to advantage here and was not required to do anything very histrionic - except in a night club scene where he is observed by Ann kissing Carole, Ann walks out after giving him the ultimate insult of throwing pennies at his feet, therein which he chokes up but bravely finishes his song!!
Fay Wray made this the same year as she did King Kong. In this one, she stars as Ann Carver, a working girl who becomes a successful attorney - pretty far ahead of her time! She marries Bill (Gene Raymond) an architect who has big plans, but isn't as successful as he'd like to be. They run into legal trouble, and its up to Ann to try to get them out of it. A lot of clever lines and fun scenes, well done by the cast. Raymond and Wray make a very believable couple, and the script flows with no pot holes or plot-holes. Claire Dodd is in the cast, and one of my favorites, Jessie Ralph, as Terry, the over-dramatic housekeeper. This was made just prior to the film code enforcement, as we can tell by the courtroom scenes, and the backless dresses on F. Wray. "Ann Carver" has a lot in common with "The Bride Walks Out", kind of a remake by RKO in 1936, which also starred G Raymond, but this time with B. Stanwycke. Written by Robert Riskin, who won the Oscar for writing "It Happened One Night". Directed by Edward Buzzell, who directed a couple of the Marx Brothers films. Good, fun entertainment, even if the ending is a little weak.
There are some films that stand the test of time. "Ann Carver's
Profession" DEFINITELY isn't one of them.
This 1933 film stars Fay Wray, Gene Raymond, and Claire Dodd. The story will leave you in shock.
Raymond plays a college football star, Bill Graham, who now is working his way up in business, except that he feels stagnant. His wife Ann (Wray) was an attorney, and now she's his wife, and they're very much in love. One night at a party, she criticizes a big attorney for the way he's trying a case, and he wants to hire her. Her husband is thrilled for her and very proud.
Ann becomes a star overnight when she replaces the lead attorney on a case that will have your jaw drop to the floor. A man is on trial for consorting with a black woman he claims he did not know was black. She is on the stand and has to show her shoulder so that everyone can see her skin is darker than it is on her face. Ann wins the case by bringing women in wearing bathing suits and asking the prosecution to pick out the black women.
Okay, we made it through. The boss is so impressed that he gives her $5,000, equal to $84,000 today - this is when people made something like $100 a month, and that was a good salary. Her husband has just gotten a raise, but when she shows him her check, he doesn't say anything about it.
As Ann becomes more famous, Bill feels like he's going nowhere. He takes a job singing in a nightclub, which in the beginning Ann wanted him to take. Now, she's embarrassed and furious. He meets a woman there who is crazy about him; he starts drinking and the two have an affair. One night, she dies by accident. Bill is arrested for her murder. Ann defends him.
Ann is clearly portrayed as the villain here, putting her career before her husband and becoming haughty. Today when she got married, she would have kept working. In those days, the husband was considered a failure if his wife worked. Two-career households are very difficult, no one is denying that, and finding time together takes work and commitment. But that isn't what Ann Carver's Profession is about. It's about the importance of a woman putting her husband and her husband's ego first and taking a back seat.
Someone mentioned Fay Wray's acting in the courtroom scene as being over the top. Watch John Beal's courtroom speech in Madame X. Today it seems over the top. Back then, that was considered good acting. A lot of actors came from the stage and brought that training to film, and I think the acting on stage back then was a little bigger than we see today. As Bette Davis said, "Actors today want to be real. But real acting is larger than life." If you see this listed on TCM, take a look at it. It's a wonderful look at the mores and attitudes back then, so different from what they are today. The cast is good, and the film moves quickly. It's an artifact -- in fact, it's an antique.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Before the women of World War II took on men's tougher jobs, working as
riveters, pilots and occasionally even being caught on the front line
(usually as nurses), they were occasionally doctors (Kay Francis in
"Mary Stevens M.D.", "Dr. Monica"), business women (Kay Francis in "Man
Wanted", "Trouble in Paradise", Ruth Chatterton, "Female"), and in Fay
Wray's case here, an attorney. In each case, all of these women had men
troubles, especially if they were married.
Here, Wray is married to a former college football hero (Gene Raymond) who is working an entry level job as an architect. She stays home at first after graduating from law school, but at a dinner party, gets involved in a conversation regarding a breech of promise case. Insisting that women have no place on a jury when the case involves another woman (in this case, a very light skinned black woman), she takes over the case, and with sly conniving, gets the defendant off. This scene is pretty impressive and shocking for its day as she actually questions the prosecuting attorney who insists that only a blithering idiot wouldn't be able to tell that the woman wasn't "colored". With this case, she becomes highly respected, beginning the slow downfall of her marriage, especially when Raymond is asked to pay the servants and doesn't have enough money to do so.
Raymond's ego takes over as he takes a night gig as a crooner in a nightclub, falling into the clutches of the drunken Claire Dodd, a clinging sort who makes no bones about hating his "uppity wife". This leads to a very gruesome plot twist (shocking, even for pre-code!), and Wray's sudden defending of her husband in court. Wray must deliver a truly maddening speech about a wife's place in a marriage, and the script totally overlooks her defense of her husband's innocence. While writer Robert Riskin had some good intentions here (having written some powerful career women in many Frank Capra classics), he must have been forced to wimp out here, really giving no compromise between husband and wife and just perpetuating the stereotype of this time that a woman's place is in the home, having kids and darning socks. What starts off as strong drama and could have become a classic simply turns into a screen equivalent of the radio soap operas of its time.
Lest We Forget, Before Women were Propelled into the Workforce by
Necessity During World War II, the Professional Female was a Somewhat
Controversial Anomaly. Hollywood did use the Situation Frequently
During the 1930's as the Depression Made Things More Gender Equal as
the Economic Suffering Dispersed Like a Plague Among the Populace.
In this One Fay Wray is a College Graduate Along with Her Football Star Husband (Gene Raymond) and His Career as an Architect is Stalling and She Decides to Pursue Her Own Status as a Lawyer. She Abandons Her Wifely Duties as Her Amiable Husband Becomes More and More Frustrated.
It is an Interesting Bit of Antiquity and has Some Things of Interest Including a Bizarre Courtroom Scene at the Beginning that Concerns Itself with Society's Segregation. It Shows its Pre-Code Pedigree as Hubby has an Affair and Shacks Up with Claire Dodd and the Sex and Drinking are On Display Quite Freely.
The Ending will Certainly Disappoint Women Libbers as it Resorts to a Standard Conservative Courtroom Speech About a Woman's Place. Fay Wray is Given an Opportunity to Show Some Acting Chops in the Same Year She would be Immortalized in One of the Best Films Ever Made. One She would Forever be Associated. Later in Life She Stated..."I have now realized that King Kong was my friend."
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie starts out portraying Ann Carver (Fay Wray) and Graham (Gene
Raymond) as a delightful couple -- both are talented, articulate, and
But did some other screenwriter take the reins two-thirds of the way into this period piece?
The movie slides seriously downhill after a ludicrous plot twist involving a drunken floosie's death. Sure, forensics was in its infancy in the Thirties, but I never bought for a minute that Graham should take the rap.
This movie seems misogynistic in its portrayal of the talented Ann as a workaholic who is blind to her less successful husband's wounded self-esteem. Then when the screenwriters have her self-flagellate in court, as she tries to make a case for HIS acquittal, the film goes all sappy and downright dumb.
The movie ends with Ann having fled the world of work so she can be a stay-at-home wife, ever-ready for her freshly rejuvenated husband's kisses and cuddles.
And we are supposed to see this as a happy ending...
I'll bet this film was made at a time when it was looking like women might actually make lives for themselves outside of their husbands' shadows. And the screenwriter decided he'd patch something together to show the dangers of women's liberation.
It's truly shocking to view this film today. For that reason alone it holds a little antique interest.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In some ways, "Ann Carver's Profession" is a formulaic film...but WOW,
I didn't see that plot twist coming near the end. I like this, even
though it's a bit hard to believe, as it made the film more than a
typical working professional woman film.
The movie starts with Gene Raymond graduating with an architecture degree and Fay Wray with a law degree. Despite her advanced degree, she stays home once they marry--after all, that WAS a woman's place according to 1930s conventions. However, Fay hates being a housewife and jumps at the chance to work for a law firm. Unfortunately for Raymond's ego, she turns out to be super-successful--and becomes a famous lawyer. In the 30s, this would essentially mean he was emasculated. At first, I was mad at Raymond for his petulant feelings...after all, my wife makes lots more money than I do!! But, I came to feel a bit sorry for him when he quit his job to become a professional crooner (something Raymond had been in real life). In this new job, Wray treated him horribly and acted ashamed of him. This reaction to his new job was the straw that broke the marriage. However, what happened next really hit me out of left field. I'll say no more, as it would spoil the film, but the movie went in a direction I never would have anticipated.
Overall, a good film. Although it appeared to be just another successful business woman film, it turned out to be a lot better. Too bad, however, a bit of this was undone by forcing the plot to follow the dumb conviction that a woman MUST sacrifice her career for the sake of a marriage. By the end of the film Wray had to become a housewife and be less of herself in order for them to be happy--what a terrible message to girls of the day!
|Page 1 of 2:|| |
|Plot summary||Ratings||External reviews|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|