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Douglas Fairbanks Jr.,
Glamorous and efficient Helen Murphy runs a service that will provide any type of assistance to wealthy customers, but what she's really looking for is a man who can take care of himself. Rugged Robert Wade, an inventor in town to secure funding for his new model tractor, wants to meet a woman who won't try to run his life. Despite being made for each other, Helen and Bob go through the usual complications of a film like this before ending up together in the final reel. Written by
Since Thriller seems to be played every five minutes on the radio following the death of Michael Jackson, I've found myself lecturing the kids about the wonderful, 55-year career of the legendary Vincent Price.
Well here's where that wonderful career began - the male lead in his debut feature! His role here couldn't be any further removed from the genre he's famous for. This romantic screwball comedy sees Price play the heart-throb hero(?!) opposite comedy actress Constance Bennett (who, incidentally, my mother was named after).
Helen Murphy (Bennett) runs the titular service which caters for the every need of its customers, from meals to shopping, finances to social arrangements. Constance is sick of running around after men (her main customers) and seeks an independent, self-sufficient partner.
She meets one in the form of Robert Wade (Price) who, after a case of mistaken identity (have you ever seen a 30s comedy in which this didn't happen?), treats her like a real woman. Unfortunately, Murphy's business-like lifestyle clashes with Wade's vision of the ideal woman - a homely child-bearer who lets the man pay for everything.
So Murphy lies and hides the truth of her real occupation - with hilarious consequences. Naturally Wade hates Murphy's service (remember, he doesn't know she's behind it!) which he finds unnecessary intrusive. This of course causes Murphy to perpetuate the deceit.
There's plenty of madcap behaviour as Wade's now antiquated views of women force Murphy to use underhanded tactics to win his heart. Bennett is great as always and Price is also very good, although no Cary Grant. There's also a supporting cast of zany characters including Mischa Auer (mad Russian chef who constantly consults his spirit guide), Charles Ruggles (eccentric old businessman) and Helen Broderick (dumb romantic dreamer).
The comedy is often predictable as Wade sets about selling his new innovative tractor idea and gets himself accidentally engaged to the wrong person. However, it's all very likable and sweet and makes for a perfect afternoon matinée.
Considering Price makes his feature film debut here, it is amazing to see how comfortable he is and how consistent his look and persona are with later roles. The ever-present 'tache is obviously on show, as is that slight southern twang and dignified manner. To be fair, the 27-year old Price looks exactly here as he does in 'The House on Haunted Hill' 20 years later! And there's an interesting scene in which Price jokingly talks about madness in his family, as he slowly and menacingly advances towards his finance an eerie forecast of things to come
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