Oddly enough this is one of my favorites from the 30's
I say "oddly" because I cannot nail down precisely why I like it so much. There's just something magical and Christmas-like - in a renewed hope kind of way - about this film.
I admit that I would find Terry Parker (George Brent) an unendurable jerk if it were not for the first scene showing the airplane wreck plus his one serious speech to his good friend and benefactor Gibraltar (Warren William) about why he is wrecking his own life with wild abandon. One act of carelessness - not being sure he had enough fuel when he piloted his family to an event - has resulted in all of their deaths while he walked away unharmed, and now he is being intentionally reckless and insuring that he will never be successful or happy. He feels he's living on borrowed time and he wants to be sure he can't pay back the loan.
However, he can't help but reach for some bit of happiness when he meets Amy (Kay Francis) at a party. The two run out on the party, have a grand night together strolling through the park, riding in a carriage, and dunking donuts at dawn in a dingy diner. Then Terry learns that Amy is "Gibraltar's Amy" - the girl that his only true friend in the world loves and just told him about the day before. He won't betray that friendship, so in spite of Amy's pleas that the feeling is not mutual between herself and Gibralter, he refuses to see her any more and goes on a bender to try to get her out of his system. Uncharacteristic for almost any role Warren William ever played, he selflessly finds Terry, sobers him up, brings him back to Amy, and steps out of the way so that Terry and Amy can be together. Amy and Terry are immediately married, and Gibraltar lets them lease a lovely vacant house he owns on Long Island for only 4.50 a month.
The two are fabulously happy at first, but then Terry starts in with his passive aggressive destruction of their marriage. He just can't let himself be happy. The whole thing ends rather abruptly and rather unbelievably in the way that so many 30's Warner films did, but the final scene is sure to warm your heart.
What's great about this movie? It has a rather offbeat and unique premise even if word by word the dialogue is forgettable, Kay Francis and George Brent had amazing chemistry here as in all of their films, and there's that great romantic score playing through most of the film. I always thought that Warner's did these 30's high society dramas actually better than MGM, even though that was somewhat MGM's stock and trade, because Warner's knew to keep things moving and to the point rather than let things drag on as was the case in several similar films by MGM of that same era. Highly recommended.
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