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After waiter and would-be novelist Peter Stanislavsky marries Marcia, he learns to play bridge to satisfy his wife, despite feeling that it is a childish game. Her friends all play the game avidly, but argue often about the proper play. He's called one evening to serve as a waiter at a bridge party given by Lola Starr, but is asked to be a fourth for one of the bridge tables, where eminent bridge expert Cedric Van Dorn is seated. Peter trounces the expert, and when asked what method he uses to play, he jokingly says the "Stanislavsky method," which has no rules of bidding or play. It makes headlines; Speed McCann ghostwrites a best-selling book for him; a national tour is set up with Marcia as his partner; and his method sweeps the country. But slowly Peter begins to question Marcia's play, leading to arguments because it is a violation of the only rule in his system. And when he gives private lessons to Lola, Marcia leaves him thinking there is something between them. With his ... Written by
Arthur Hausner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In a more leisurely era, lots of people played cards, bridge being one of the big games, and took the game very seriously. I had an old boss who hated cards because her relatives used to play and the next day, no one was speaking to anyone. I can remember my aunt and uncle getting into a big fight over bridge.
Bridge is still a big game, of course, and in this film, "Grand Slam," it's the biggest! Paul Lukas stars as a Russian waiter now in America who finds the game silly and develops his own system, the Stanislavsky system, which becomes all the rage. At the urging of his ghost writer friend (Frank McHugh), he puts together a book about it, written by McHugh. This was probably inspired by the Russian bridge player Culbertson (I was once a member of the Culbertson Bridge Club) who made a big splash in that era.
Loretta Young plays his admiring girlfriend, who becomes his wife and partner in bridge on the radio (I guess they did everything on the radio), as the Stanislavsky method is supposed to keep couples from fighting. It doesn't.
Young is gorgeous and a bright presence as usual, and Paul Lukas plays it straight, which is perfect for his character. He was a fine dramatic actor but he did whatever the studio gave him, including, of all people, Philo Vance! The movie has some fun things in it, including a performance by Glenda Farrell, and footage of the world stopping when the two great bridge players meet for their championship game - divers stop in mid-air, ocean waves stop, etc. - quite funny.
I used to stay up all night playing bridge and also whist, and this movie made me miss both of them. Unfortunately nowadays I'm too distracted to keep track of what's been played. That didn't seem to bother Paul Lukas - he just big 7 spades whenever anyone asked him for a bid.
Short, light film, with the beautiful Loretta and her amazing outfits.
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