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Dr. Maurice Lamar is a noted plastic-surgeon who makes his rich clients beautiful, and also makes them. He makes Eve Caron, the wife of Marcel Caron, so satisfied with his skilled hands that she leaves Marcel and marries Maurice. They go on a Mediterranean honeymoon, where he soon finds the affects of his own beauty regulations are more than he can handle. He bids adieu to his new bride, wings it back to Paris with the intention of giving up his practice and becoming a scientific researcher...after winning back the love of his simple, unadorned secretary, Anne. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
KISS AND MAKE-UP (Paramount, 1934), directed by Harlan Thompson, gives promise as being some sort of domestic comedy about troubled marriage, but in fact is a very silly, virtually plot less comedy dealing with cosmetics. Starring Cary Grant, the story is set in Paris, France, where he plays Maurice LaMarr, a doctor in charge of a modernistic beauty salon in which women come to be made beautiful and glamorous. He is loved by Annie Hensen (Helen Mack), his loyal secretary, however, after encountering Eve (Genevieve Tobin), the wife of Marcel Caron (Edward Everett Horton), whom he has made more beautiful than the rest, he falls madly in love with her. After Marcel divorces his Eve, it leaves her free to marry Maurice, who soon realizes his mistake after he finds that she isn't really beautiful after all. During their honeymoon after Maurice sings a song looking towards the waves at the beach, Eve approaches him in saying, "Kiss me." Getting a full view of a face full of cosmetics, he replies in a frightful way, "No, NO!" As for Annie, who feels she has lost the man she loves, decides to run off and marry Marcel.
With Grant in the role that appears to be Maurice Chevalier influenced, the film's introductory opening goes at great lengths in not only showcasing the facial clips of the major lead actors and their character roles, but a list of young starlets billed as "The Wampas Baby Stars of 1934" including some now obscure names as Lucille Lund, Jacqueline Wells (both of Universal's "The Black Cat" fame); Jean Gale, Hazel Hayes, Gigi Parrish, and much more. Look fast for future film star Ann Sheridan as one of the models who asks, "Doctor, what is that terrible noise?" in regards to some hammering. The supporting actors who partake in the story are Mona Maris as Countess Rita; Lucien Littlefield as Max Pascal; Toby Wing as Consuelo Claghorne; and Rafael Storm as Rolando.
A Paramount gag comedy that makes little sense, and getting plenty of laughs, includes several key elements where a woman customer comes to the shop to be made beautiful only to come out completely bald; and a chase climax, reminiscent to Laurel and Hardy's COUNTY HOSPITAL (1932), having Grant, becoming dizzy and confused while under either, going on a merry mad chase after Annie and Marcel in a taxi down a very crowded street.
Aside from comedy, which this movie has plenty to offer, contains two songs, the campy "Cornbeaf and Cabbage - I Love You" (sung by Helen Mack and Edward Everett Horton) and "Love Divided By Two" (sung twice by Cary Grant), by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin, the latter used frequently through underscoring. In spite of Grant's reputation as a debonair leading man of screwball comedies, and a fine actor when it comes to heavy dramatics, he demonstrates how well he can sing, and how sparingly he's done so in his long career. Genevieve Tobin, on loan from Warner Brothers, is showcased in the usual manner as a free-spirited woman far from being loyal to the men who love her; Edward Everett Horton, with curly hair and red lips, as the jealous ex-husband to be; and Helen Mack (best known for her performance in RKO's THE SON OF KONG, 1933) satisfactory as the good but sensible girl. Grant and Mack would share another movie, the better known comedy of HIS GIRL Friday (Columbia, 1940), with Grant and Rosalind Russell in the leads, and Miss Mack in a smaller but notable performance.
KISS AND MAKE UP is harmless fun, enjoyable by those who appreciate this sort of material where writers tend to throw in anything to stretch out the story to feature length 70 minutes. Interestingly, of all the movies from the Paramount library that were broadcast on New York City's WPIX, Channel 11 (1965-1974), KISS AND MAKE-UP survived the longest, making its final air date on that station in mid 1975 before drifting to obscurity.
KISS AND MAKE UP may not be top-of-the-line Cary Grant, but no disaster by any means either. It's a sort of offbeat film Grant might have looked back and asking himself, "Did I really do this?" Distributed to DVD in 2006, on the double-bill with another Grant comedy, THIRTY DAY PRINCESS (1934), KISS AND MAKE-UP is a worthy re-discovery. (***)
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