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|Index||11 reviews in total|
This is an interesting 1936 film starring Constance Bennett, Janet
Gaynor, Loretta Young, Paul Lukas, Don Ameche, and Tyrone Power. Set in
Budapest, it concerns three young women who get an apartment together.
All wish for love and happiness but soon learn that the course of true
love never does run smooth.
And neither does the course of stardom, as the featured stars in this film would soon be replaced by a younger crowd. The Bennett-Lukas affair and Gaynor's adventures with Don Ameche and her magician boss take center stage, while Loretta Young's romance with Tyrone Power gets short shrift. The film provides an excellent showcase for Don Ameche, Power, and Young, all of whom would take over the star roster at Fox within the next two years. Power is flawlessly gorgeous and is delightful with Young. This obviously was not lost on 20th Century Fox as the studio would star the two in four films over the next three years. Bennett and Gaynor were two very early stars, and by 1941, Bennett was doing second leads; Gaynor (who was dating Power) had her last steady work in films in 1938.
"Ladies in Love" has a great feel to it with its Budapest background, European-based stories being so popular in the '30s, and there are some wonderful performances. Bennett is beautiful and glamorous as the one who's been around the block and Gaynor petite and lively as she carries on a love/hate relationship with Ameche.
Simone Simon has a role as a kittenish young woman who arrives at Lukas' apartment as a cousin by marriage. She looks like she's about 16, but in reality, the actress was 25. However, she is playing someone who is in school, and I found her relationship with Lukas a little disconcerting. She was probably supposed to be 18.
All in all, an entertaining film signaling a changing of the guard at Fox.
An early example of Darryl Zanuck's favorite formula: three young ladies share an apartment [see THREE BLIND MICE, MOON OVER MIAMI, HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE, THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN, THE BEST OF EVERYTHING]. This time the setting for their various romantic difficulties is Budapest. Squeaky-voiced Janet Gaynor gets top billing as a poor girl who hawks neckties on streetcorners but also feeds rabbits for young doctor Don Ameche and still has time to perform valet duty for self-absorbed magician Alan Mowbray. Over-eager Loretta Young, on the other hand, obsesses over wealthy nobleman Tyrone Power. As a sophisticated gold-digger, Constance Bennett has the best role, allowing her to underplay effectively. Her plot thread involves an affair with wealthy Paul Lukas, complicated by the unexpected arrival of Simone Simon [who is introduced as a nymphet in a sailor suit]. With all these comic/romantic/tragic ingredients [poison is also involved], this stew is not completely digestible. However, despite awkward shifts in tone and rather flat lighting, it remains interesting as a showcase for a variety of film personalities, some on the rise and some not. Ironically, the most striking performance comes from a subsidiary character: Wilfrid Lawson, who implies an entire world of sophistication in his few scenes as an aging playboy.
Just an addition to other comments; this film while definitely Hollywood has a European feel to it. There is a definite desperate,cynical air to it that would make you think it's director was a continental director transplanted to the US. I checked and Griffith is from Virginia. However, he was educated in Europe-this of course proves nothing but maybe he was influenced by familiarity with European film. Anyway this "feel" I get from the film makes it more interesting to me. But whatever it is worth seeing just for the great cast!
Ladies in Love (1936)
** (out of 4)
Janet Gaynor, Loretta Young, Constance Bennett, Simone Simon, Don Ameche, Paul Lukas and Tyrone Power highlight this all-star cast but the final film doesn't do any of them justice. Set in Budapest, three women (Gaynor, Young, Bennett) move into an apartment and soon we see them struggle with love and work issues. The cast here is extremely good but the screenplay is extremely poor. It's clear Fox wanted to throw all their stars in the pot but it's too bad they didn't bother coming up with a better screenplay. The movie is pretty much all dialogue and there's way too much of it and none of it comes off too interesting. The actors all do fine work on their own but the screenplay doesn't give them too much to do and the relationships never come off believable. Gaynor steals the film as a poor girl who sells ties trying to make ends meet. Ameche is also very good as the doctor who doesn't realize he's in love with Gaynor's character.
Star-studded cast with three complete story lines make this tiny gem a
fast-paced and absorbing flick. Bennett commands all her scenes with
her trademarked regal assurance, Young does her gushing little girl
routine, with one quick quip about being independent of men at the
beginning, almost as if there was a coded assumption that she was a
feminist at heart who had to be proved wrong by the overwhelming
righteousness of patriarchal adherence to the masculine preferences
inherent in the typical happy ending. Gaynor does her variation on
Young's innocent routine, only mixing in the eager submissiveness of
the thoroughly indoctrinated practitioner of standard femininity.
The stories are set in Budapest, harnessed together by one of old Hollywood's most beloved artifices, the "three girls rooming together in poverty searching for husbands" plot. We are instantly thrown into the three romantic story lines, with the astonishing economy of old Hollywood that I fervently wish were still practiced today.
Bennett is engaged in a open, sensible affair with Paul Lukas, and is showily worldly and cynical, while using subtle cues to clue us into the real state of her heart. Young has a storybook romance going with a young nobleman, played by the preternaturally handsome Power, who could have used a bit more screen time, or so many of us might wish. Gaynor is in love with a irascible, jealous control freak doctor, Ameche, but is discharged by him when she starts to work for the pompous, self-centered Alan Mowbray, who is a conceited magician and who does a wonderful character turn in the typically delightful Mowbray style, which is to say, as gay as pink ink on scented paper.
I expected absolute fidelity to the standard Hollywood tropes and was pleasantly surprised to find the ending quite mixed. Young and Bennett reprise Young's comments about independence after being properly chastened by the absolute freedom enjoyed by the men in their lives, and Lukas is boldly tempted away from Bennett's side by Simon, playing a French schoolgirl who steals every scene she is in with her precocious grasp of the values of sexual audacity. There is a priceless moment, after she gets him to kiss her, a lingering kiss fraught with expectation and lacking in any visible restraint, where she looks at him in delight and barks a little laugh of knowing disdain and triumphant glee. Excellently put together and directed with great timing and sensitive performances, this film greatly exceeded my modest expectations.
My husband and I watched this movie last night and really enjoyed it.
The plot was intriguing and the acting was surprisingly superb,
especially Janet Gaynor, Constance Bennett and Alan Mowbray as the
magician. These three actors aren't as well known to modern audiences
as Loretta Young, Tyrone Power and Paul Lukas; however, their
performances in this film carry the film and give much greater depth
and subtlety to the movie.
We couldn't believe we had never heard of this movie before. I've read some of the more negative reviews on this website, and I don't agree with them. I recommend that you give this movie a try. It is most definitely NOT a screwball comedy or lightweight film like "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire." One reviewer mentioned the "European" feel of the film. It is set in Budapest, Hungary and it is true to the mores of the place and time. An excellent movie! If for no other reason, please watch it so that you can better appreciate Alan Mowbray, who is so underused in "My Man Godfrey" and is not remembered much for his great supporting role as the butler in "Merrily We Live."
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
... because you just might get it! It's rather predictable, yet
interesting. Three women combine finances so they can rent a spacious
apartment in a wealthy part of Budapest and use that apartment as a
jumping off point so that they all can get their individual wishes.
Constance Bennett plays Yoli, a woman with sophisticated tastes and
ways, but no money. Loretta Young plays Susie Schmidt, a girl in the
chorus of a local show, and Janet Gaynor plays Baroness Martha, a woman
of noble blood whose family lost everything in WWI, so now she has to
live off selling neckties on the street along with a hodgepodge of odd
One of the first thing the women do is practice an old superstition. They sit down in whatever room of the apartment they happen to be in, count the corners of the room, and then say their wish aloud. Yoli asks for a rich husband who will buy her jewels and furs, Susie asks to be independent of men with a shop of her own. You can detect a trace of bitterness in her voice as she says this, as though she has been burned by romance before and often. Finally, in the bathroom, Martha says she is going to ask for the impossible - a good home, a husband to take care of, and children.
Their first visitor is John Barta, a wealthy man whose work takes him all over the world, but for now he is on vacation in Budapest and keeping company with the seemingly aloof Yoli. Along with Barta is Karl Lanyi (Tyrone Power). One smile from him and it's time for family values for Susie. Her Independence Day spirit evaporates before your eyes. As for Martha, she gets a job to replace all of her part time jobs by being the assistant to an illusionist, Alan Mowbrey as the very amusing Paul Sandor who can't tell when he is performing and when he is having an actual conversation.
By my last paragraph do you think you can tell how this will turn out? I will tell you now you do not! Watch and find out. I will tell you that every girl get's their spoken wish, but not the desires of their heart. Only Martha winds up truly happy. I've always said if you are going to watch the films of 1936 you better be prepared to deal with the values of 1936, so the lesson here seems to be that the only honorable ambition of any girl is for a traditional family. Just wanting a rich man for what he can give you or a career so you don't have to deal with a man in the first place is just not honorable. Not my words or beliefs, but ideas coming from a script written almost 80 years ago that Fox revamped from various angles from time to time over the next three decades.
An interesting aside - Fox's past, present, and future are all here. Loretta Young was brought over from Zanuck's 20th Century films to do this, and she wound up a big star. Don Ameche is fifth billed, but will wind up being one of Fox's biggest stars with that charm that was just so unique to him. Tyrone Power? He's seventh billed and one of the few assets left over from the original Fox Films, but that disarming smile, even playing a pure heel with only a few lines, got so much fan mail that he quickly went up the ladder. As for Janet Gaynor, she had been making money for Fox for over a decade and has probably the best role here, but her time at Fox, and in film for that matter, is just about over.
I'd highly recommend this if you ever get the time. The ghostliest fact to me - these people don't even realize that their wishes may be temporary because another war is about to change everything in just three years time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The only thing I can really say in praise of this very disappointing waste of effort, money and time, is that I really enjoyed the delightfully inappropriate Viennese music score directed and conducted by Louis Silvers. The script by Melville Baker (who later wrote the excellent "Above Suspicion") can only be described as a screaming bore. Admittedly, Baker probably didn't have much to start with in Ladislaus Bus-Fekete's 1930 Hungarian stage play which was translated by Victor Katona and Guy Bolton (of all people!) and which was published by Dutton of New York in 1937 - that is AFTER the movie was released. Presumably, Dutton anticipated that the movie would be a really big hit. It was certainly packed with star power: Janet Gaynor, Loretta Young, Constance Bennett, Simone Simon, Don Ameche, Paul Lukas, Tyrone Power... Alas, Only Alan Mowbray really delivers (and perhaps Simone Simon). The director, Edward H. Griffith, was not exactly a director of renown. And even if he was, almost everyone else assigned to this movie seems to be working at half steam, including my favorite photographer, Hal Mohr.
Although no one on this film got any closer to Budapest than the new
20th Century Fox studio's back lot, Ladies In Love is a nice romantic
film about three women who agree to split the costs of an apartment in
a swank Budapest neighborhood. The better for them to catch good
husbands and the three go about to work.
Janet Gaynor works as a lab assistant to Dr. Don Ameche who basically treats her like a doormat. She must like the idea because she then goes to work for egotistical magician Alan Mowbray as his assistant and general factotum. Mowbray is in a part that later on Clifton Webb would have specialized in.
Loretta Young thinks she's found true love in Tyrone Power. But Power is a heel in this one and he's some kind of minor nobility. He trades up for Virginia Field who not only has title, but money. This was the role that made Darryl Zanuck decide that Power would be the franchise player of his new 20th Century Fox studio. Power would play a hero/heel in many of his films, but here he's a straight heel. Seventh billed in the cast list he got a lot of fan mail from this film that helped Zanuck in his evaluation.
Constance Bennett is the oldest and most experienced of the three. She's got a thing going with another titled gent Paul Lukas. But one fine day a sly little minx from the country shows up in Simone Simon. She's supposed to be a teenager, but this girl is most mature in her wiles. She's got Lukas panting and wanting more.
In the end one girl gets what she wants, the other two have to settle as they leave their apartment in the ritzy part of Budapest. A close call to tragedy also happens to one.
Ladies In Love is a nice romantic film in which a whole cast gave a nice ensemble effort. Some futures were made because of this film.
Starting off with a bit of perhaps heresy to some, I have never understood the appeal of Janet Gaynor, and this did not help. However, though the long-shot and quirkiest character here, hers was the lucky ticket that paid off. It is interesting to see the former box-office dominating Bennett underbilled to Loretta Young, whose star was on the rise. They say Ms. Young's fan mail always abounded, something the execs kept a close eye on. Despite that, she has a thankless part here, the heir apparent to the young nobleman's second billing, having already been aligned with a worthy marriage candidate, likely by family design. With Young's character, he was shopping for the extracurricular interest in advance. However, it's more the personality type chosen for this character that did not fit Ms. Young, who seemed off balance playing off balance, being more effective as a more self-assured type. Ms. Bennett had the best part and did well enough. The screenwriter(s) did not play true to type and time here in that they only rewarded one of the three young hopefuls, the other two left to gracefully bow out of the venture at the end, perhaps some the wiser. The production values along with interesting players form the lifeline of this one, the script needing recessitation from the beginning, but never receiving it.
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