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Very underrated comedy stars Marion Davies (in her final film) as a woman who frumps herself up to land a secretarial job. Because the frump is efficient, the boss (Robert Montgomery) continues to chase women: a conniving shrew (Marcia Ralston) and a blonde beauty (Davies!) who he meets at a nightclub. Role-reversal comedy is fun from the start with Davies at her comic peak as the dour frump. She's not afraid to look really bad. Excellent supporting cast includes Patsy Kelly, Allen Jenkins, Frank McHugh, Louise Fazenda, and Mary Treen. Once again Davies proves she had acting talent (given the right roles) and that was was a total delight. Her best comedy performances stand up against those of Carole Lombard, Myrna Loy, Jean Arthur or Irene Dunne. Catch this one.
Very entertaining romantic comedy starring Marion Davies as Marge, a
gal who keeps quitting or getting fired from her secretarial jobs
because she's too attractive to keep her bosses from chasing her,
asking her to stay for "night work", etc. At the employment agency she
hears about a job at a publishing company that only hires "homely"
secretaries, so she makes herself over to look plain - complete with
thick round eyeglasses, short dark wig, over-sized suit, sensible
shoes, and funny-looking hat (de rigueur for this kind of deception, it
seems) - and gets herself the job. She's soon put to work as secretary
for handsome ladies man Freddy Matthews (played by Robert Montgomery)
who is writing a book with a firm due date at the publishers - problem
is, he just can't keep his mind on the job. So - he thinks she has a
"face that would stop a clock" (hmmm - he met her as herself in an
earlier scene and thought she was a beauty, just a pair of glasses
makes that much difference?!) so has no interest in her, she takes it
upon herself to press him into completing his book and keep him away
from distractions like his jealous, extremely hot-headed girlfriend.
Well, this film is a lot of fun - the story is very enjoyable and funny, with well done performances by all. Marion Davies is fun to watch switching back and forth between blonde beauty and plain jane, Robert Montgomery is his handsome, charming, usual self, Patsy Kelly adds some humor to the mix playing Davies wisecracking roommate/gal pal and Frank McHugh is amusing as a man who writes books for young girls under a female pseudonym. The plot of this film has an element that you just must except (like many other similar films with this sort of disguise) - the fact that our man is completely unable to recognize, either visually or by her voice, Davies character when she has on the glasses and wig. He actually meets Marge at one point in the film, dressed as herself, and they go out and begin to fall in love - and he doesn't have a clue that she and his secretary are one and the same person! All in all, I found this film to be a pleasant watch, well worth seeing.
Had always heard how rotten this film was. Imagine my surprise when I
finally saw it and found it one of the most enjoyable of the Warner's 30's
comedies. Marion is a delight, totally natural . . . which is why I guess,
they never thought she could act! The film has a great supporting cast.
Louise Fazenda has a hilarious role as Abigail Beldon the book publisher,
and Merle Oberon look alike, Marcia Ralston makes a vicious "other woman".
The whole thing is fun. Take it for what it is . . . just
Oh yes, plot is Marion makes herself over to be plain and ugly to get a job and falls for Robert Mongomery, her employer.
Many screwball comedies of the 30's and 40's are regular fixtures on
the TV movie circuit, so, that you might know movies like It Happened
One Night or Bringing Up Baby almost by heart they've been on so often.
I've seen Ever Since Eve a couple of times on TCM, but that is about
the only place you'll run into it. Too bad! But at least it does keep
the story somewhat fresh, as much of it works with an element of
surprise. Still this is a well-made gem that deserves to be seen more
Short plot summary: Marge Winton is caught between eating 3 squares a day and preserving her virtue. She's a very good secretary who happens also to be very good-looking. Every time she lands a job the boss tries to land on her after hours and she has to quit. She happens upon a publishing company that insists that all their secretaries be unattractive and decides to disguise herself and take a job there. She ends up working for a playboy author who is not doing any work largely because of girlfriend Camille (Ralston) The publisher sets Marge to the task of making him write.
The cast is filled with veterans who provide predictable laughs and display well-honed comic chops. Patsy Kelly and Alan Jenkins are great fun as Marge's roommate and her loutish boy-friend. They keep the action moving and push the screwball accelerator down a notch when the story threatens to get too soppy. Likewise, Marcia Ralston with her jealous girlfriend sets a tempestuous tone that keeps us from thinking too hard and would explain Freddy Matthews' (Robert Montgomery) inability to get his life in gear. Anyone who's dated a psycho can relate. Montegomery, as usual, is smooth and bubbly as the boy hero. He played that role so often, he could no doubt play it in his sleep.
While most of the story can be seen coming there is a real surprise when Davies pulls off the transformation.
In contemporary movies, we've had several stars try this trick. It's almost a Hollywood stereotype. Most notably we've had Julia Robert's trying to convince us that she was the ugly duckling sister; Sandra Bulluck as an unattractive(?) cop; Gwyneth Paltrow donning a fat suit and Renee Zellweger actually gaining weight for the part. No one could possibly believe the first two examples, because gosh darn it they were just too good looking. The Bullock example is stunning, because she is in the top .001 percentile of attractive women on camera. The studios have never made her look unattractive. The last two succeeded sort of. Zellweger took on the frumpy role just as De Niro took on the weight in Raging Bull, she wasn't made-up she was. Paltrow is wearing a fat suit and carry's off the ploy, but this is a triumph of extreme make-up.
Davies pulls this off stunningly. Although it is but a wig, glasses and a change of clothes, it is thoroughly convincing. In fact, it is her acting chops that really pull this off, because she really takes on the manners and attitude of the plain girl and can just as easily switch back to the babe. When she tests it out for the first time on us and plumber Al, who is expecting the babe, we are already expecting her plain Jane disguise, but she exceeds our expectations. She could have easily slipped on to another movie set and played the frumpy secretary. Later on she even shows us the transformation from one to the other but it is still believable. She has brought the dual role to life much as Hoffman in Tootsie made us accept the dualism in his drag role. Really, the only thing that is hard to believe in this story is that Montegomery could actually write. Though, we can believe that Davies could get him to do it.
All in all this movie is unrelenting fun and a fine time waster.
I agree with the first comment, that I expected a poor picture and discovered a highly entertaining light comedy. Yeah, perhaps Marion Davies was typically too old to be playing what the reviewers called another "eye-batting ingenue," but she's not batting her eyes here. The entire concept of a woman succeeding based on her hard work, talent, and merit is taken quite seriously for a "silly comedy." This concept has been used time and time again, particularly with Laura La Plante in the English THE CHURCH MOUSE (35), and the earlier Warner BEAUTY AND THE BOSS, with Marian Marsh. La Plante was splendid, Marsh a bit inexperienced to carry off the entire chore, but Marion Davies plays with professional elan, and as usual, she is surrounded by folks who see to it that your time is never wasted - Patsy Kelly, Louise Fazenda, Frank McHugh, Allen Jenkins, and Barton MacLane. Bob Montgomerey was borrowed from MGM, and although he's certainly at home in such material, he doesn't seem to be enjoying the ride as much as the rest of the cast. Davies made four films at Warners, and although Jack Warner claimed they all made (highly suspect) profits, they were certainly lavish affairs. EVE was the final appearance, and although it was not PEG O' MY HEART or SHOW PEOPLE or WHEN KNIGHTHOOD WAS IN FLOWER, it is by no means a poor film, in fact, I would stack it against any later 30s film starring one of her contemporaries, say, Norma, Dolores, Janet, or Joan.
"Ever Since Eve" is a cute comedy from 1937 starring Marion Davies,
Robert Montgomery, Patsy Kelly, and Allen Jenkins. Davies plays a
secretary who gets sick of the men she works for hitting on her all the
time - so sick, in fact, that she makes herself into a homely frump and
goes to work for Robert Montgomery, who plays an author in need of
someone efficient so that he can finish his book.
Davies' transformation is very good, but I have to admit that I didn't find her so much of a knockout normally that no man could keep his hands off of her. It was really a role for someone like Jean Harlow. The interesting thing is, Davies was 40 at the time. It was unusual in those days for an actress to still be playing starring roles by then and only superstars with clout could get away with it. Norma Shearer retired at 40, as did Greta Garbo; by the time Joan Crawford was 38, MGM was giving her junk, and she was drummed out of the studio.
Davies is very good, and the film is cute, with good performances from the rest of the cast. Davies' acting abilities come as no surprise to me, as I have enjoyed many of her performances. She was a bright presence as well.
"Ever Since Eve" goes down easily. It's not a masterpiece, not a classic screwball comedy, but it's very enjoyable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For a film that starts off so promising, "Ever Since Eve" ends up very
disappointing. For the first third, it's quite funny, this story of
office sexual harassment where the victim can't go to HR. She simply
makes herself into a plain Jane to avoid amorous bosses to whom
overtime doesn't include office work. Marian Davies (quite lovely, as
Louella would always say!) does what Ginger Rogers did two years ago in
"In Person", for different reasons, however. This is confusing for her
rowdy roommate (Patsy Kelly) and her boyfriend (Allen Jenkins) and for
her new boss, an author of movie stories (Robert Montgomery) who has a
really obnoxious socialite fiancée (Marcia Ralston). So far, so good.
Montgomery at first finds the plain version of Davies too demanding of
him (because of his boss, Louise Fazenda), but when she quits because
of accusations made by Ralston, he goes to her apartment where he meets
the pretty version of Davies. Thus, he falls instantly in love, but she
pretends to leave town so he'll finish his deadline. Montgomery follows
her to the place she really didn't intend to go, so Davies must rush
there, both as her pretty and plain versions. Confused??? This is where
the film goes off the rack, having a sudden group of thieves interrupt,
including one woman who looks exactly like Davies and is wearing the
exact same costume.
As I said, the first 2/3 are really entertaining, not in a "My Man Godfrey" classic sort of way, but still enjoyable. Everyone is doing their best to provide laughs in a ridiculous but still fun plot line. But once they get to the inn, it just gets too much. Poor Ralston, who resembles Merle Oberon, but doesn't get to be as ladylike here, suffers all sorts of indignities with her obnoxious character. Frank McHugh too is around as Montgomery's pal who escorts Ralston when her fiancée is not available. Today, this sort of plot line could never be filmed because of its obvious use of sexual harassment and the way that is handled in the workplace. But in the 30's, the "How to Succeed in Business" song "A Secretary is Not a Toy" hadn't been written yet and as any 30's movie viewer knows, a secretary made many a hard-working businessman very happy. This is one of those films to take with a grain of salt and enjoy mostly for its fine character performances and sometimes witty banter.
This is a film where you must completely turn off your brain in able to
enjoy it. Apparently members of the Marion Davies cult must have no
problem turning off their brains, as 52.2% of the people who have rated
this film gave it a 10. This, for a film that is a tad silly and was
never meant as "high art"--even by Miss Davies. Plus, it turned out to
be such as disaster at the box office (following several other recent
disasters) that she called her career quits following this film.
It's a shame really, as she is neither as bad an actress as some have claimed over the years (though she did some bad films--particularly in the 1930s) nor was she the greatest or among the greatest stars of her era either. The truth lies somewhere in between. With lovely films like SHOW PEOPLE and THE PATSY, she demonstrated that she could do well with good material. But, with films like CAIN AND MABEL and OPERATOR 13, she could also be sunk by junk scripts.
Here with EVER SINCE EVE, she is given an adequate script but just wasn't the right person for the role. Marion might have done better with a script that accepted that she was no longer the young star she had once been. Having a 40 year-old woman play a woman who men chase after like the wolf from a Tex Avery cartoon is pretty silly. Miss Davies didn't look that bad for 40, but she clearly was not the beautiful starlet she was in the 1920s--she'd put on a few pounds (as we all tend to do) and just looked every bit her age. Yet, every man that met her in the film instantly began sexually harassing her at every turn--she was supposed to be that hot and desirable.
As a result of constant sexual harassment, in the film Marion comes up with a perfect remedy for all these unwanted advances. She would put on old fashioned glasses and dress like a sex-less old lady. And, instantly, all the unwanted suitors left her alone! This is pretty silly, as Marion STILL looked like Marion--even with the glasses and ugly business suit. It reminded me of the Wonder Woman TV show. With her glasses on and hair up, no one thought Lynda Carter was beautiful. Then, without the getup, everyone would drool uncontrollably at her! Heck, even wearing concrete or a box, Ms. Carter was majorly smokin'! Miss Davies, while not quite as amazing, still was ridiculous under all that getup--it just wasn't convincing. Nor, unfortunately was the romance that developed later in the film with Robert Montgomery.
As for Patsy Kelly, she was one of the loudest and most obnoxious actresses of the 1930s. Here, she is up to her usual standards of acting. It's a shame she's in the film, as Marion was handicapped by having this lady as her supporting actress. Allen Jenkins, often pretty good in films, wasn't particularly helpful here, either.
So, overall, it's a silly piece of fluff and I am probably being very generous in giving it a 5. However, despite a silly plot, it is watchable and fun here and there.
By the way, I have noticed that other reviewers who did not adore this film were flooded with "not helpfuls". Too bad, as some of these reviews are very good and well thought-out--like mystn's.
William Randolph Hearst preferred to see mistress Marion Davies in magnolia-scented romances, but comedy was her forte, and she gets a nice chance to show off in this screwball romance, her last movie. She's a capable secretary who's sick of being pawed by her bosses and disguises herself as a frump. The trouble is that even a brunette-wig Marion with unbecoming glasses isn't THAT hideous, and the plot machinations stemming from her deception thus seem a little under-motivated. Further, it's something of a B supporting cast--what's Louise Fazenda doing in a role with Edna May Oliver written all over it, and why isn't Gail Patrick playing Marion's nemesis instead of this nobody? Bob Montgomery is just fine playing the light-leading-man sort of role he did dozens of times, and Patsy Kelly and Allen Jenkins are very reliable in this sort of thing. It doesn't sparkle, but as others have noted, it makes its serious points about women in the workplace who aren't appreciated for their talents, and Marion looks like she's having fun getting to be something other than a boring beauty.
Ever Since Eve (1937)
** (out of 4)
This politically incorrect but mildly entertaining film turned out to be Marion Davies final movie as she would retire at the age of forty. Warner threw her an excellent supporting cast and a nice director but none of it would really matter in the end as the film really fails to live up to what it should have been. Davies plays a beautiful secretary who is getting tired of her bosses hitting on her so she makes herself "homely" in order to get a real job without being harassed. Her latest boss (Robert Montgomery) has a deadline on a novel he must finish so the ugly Davies has to keep him working, although the beautiful one is falling for him. While watching the film I couldn't help but think of TOOTSIE but this one here is certainly far from a classic. The movie remains entertaining from start to finish but for a comedy there are very few laughs to be had here, which is a shame because there's a great cast here. Not only do we have Davies and Montgomery but we have Warner contract players like Frank McHugh, Patsy Kelly and Allen Jenkins. The three supporting players end up getting more laughs than the two leads with Jenkins stealing the film playing the usual dumb character we've all come to love. Davies is a tad bit too old for her role even though she's still very easy on the eyes. You do have to give her credit because there have been all kinds of famous people to do the ugly duckling roles but not really turn themselves very unattractive. Davies at least goes all out and transforms herself to the point where you can't recognize her. Some might be unhappy that Davies spends most of the film as the ugly character but I think she deserves credit for it. Bacon's direction never really comes alive as the movie never contains enough energy or laughs to keep moving. Fans of the cast will certainly want to check this out but others should stay clear.
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