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Harry A. Pollard
Charles 'Chic' Sale,
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According to "Crazy Sundays" by Aaron Latham, Producer Mankiewicz thought he could rewrite any writer and after Ogden Nash had done what he thought was a "respectable job" on the script for months, the producer put his pencil to the script and finished his rewrite job in 24 hours by crossing Nash's name off the picture. See more »
Joan Crawford disrupts a family in "The Shining Hour," a 1938 film also starring Melvyn Douglas, Margaret Sullavan, Robert Young, and Fay Bainter.
Crawford is Olivia Reilly, a New York City dancer who works in a nightclub with a partner doing an act sort of modeled on Astaire and Rogers though it's clearly down several levels. Melvyn Douglas is Henry Linden, a gentleman farmer who wants to take her away from all this to Wisconsin, and sick of her present life, she marries him. Arriving on the farm, she finds herself hated by Henry's sister, Hannah (Bainter), lusted after by Henry's brother David (Young) and loved and envied by David's wife Judy (Sullavan). Before long, David is making overt passes, Henry has figured out David is in love with his wife, and in spite of herself, Judy begins to suspect the same thing.
This film is a little overdone, as it seems like the tension in the house never lets up. David always looks miserable, Judy always looks nervous, Olivia is always trying to be nice except when she's trading barbs with Hannah, and Hannah is a bitch. How any of them stood one another for more than ten minutes is a miracle. We are never allowed to see any happiness. Also, the entire end of the film is a mess - Judy takes a ridiculous step to make everything right, and then the actual ending is dumb, with the setup for it going in the opposite direction - and making more sense. The most absurd part of the whole film, without giving anything away, is that one of the characters ends up wearing bandages - covering their nose and mouth with only the eyes showing. Now, how is anyone supposed to breathe like that? How did the actor breathe, in fact? Joan Crawford looks beautiful and is very good in her role as a city slicker who wants to love her husband and environment but is finding it difficult. Tall, elegant Melvyn Douglas, who thirty years later would emerge as one of the truly great actors in cinema, does a wonderful job as the even-tempered one of the family. For so many years, he played the family friend, the family lawyer, the other man - how, with all that magnificent talent, did he ever stand it? Robert Young is fine as David, though Margaret Sullavan is so nice and sweet and so much in love with them that he's somewhat unlikable for coming on to Olivia. As the vicious Hannah, Fay Bainter is effective, though I'd have thrown her out of the house.
All in all, it's just okay.
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