The sophisticated Loretta Young is married to the rich, fat, and pompous Eugene Pallette, who is the victim of an assassination attempt by Communist Melvyn Douglas. While hiding out from the police, Douglas meets Young, and sparks fly. She agrees to hide him in her budoir. Inquiring why he wants her husband dead, Young is flabbergasted when Douglas simply responds, "I didn't like how he held his pinky out while drinking a cup of tea". Meanwhile, Douglas is caught hiding by Young's screeching maid (Una O'Connor), but she agrees to keep mum about his presence. Then, Pallette shows up, and all hell breaks loose.
That is the basic premise for this "Ninotchka" in reverse; Young and Douglas are a romantic team worth looking at. I didn't care much for Young in a lot of her films as she was just oh-so-perfect, and oh-so unbelievable, like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth. However, in this film, she allows herself to be a little less than perfect, and as a result, I was able to warm up to her. Douglas, the leading man for practically every leading lady in Hollywood, has one of his better roles in this one; He is finally given equal treatment to his on-screen partner, rather than to simply be the cause of the heroine's misery. The two stars react off each other, rather than act; that makes them more worth watching. Eugene Pallette, one of the most popular character actors of all time, gets a chance to show what he can do as a rather unlikable character; He is so ridiculous in his pomposity that you can't help but want Douglas to shoot him. And the ending scene where Young has her come-uppance (which I will not spoil) is hysterical! Una O'Connor has nothing to do but scream and rant like a harpy; She is one of those actors you just wish would go away because she is just so annoying. O'Connor did give some wonderful performances ("Cavalcade", among others), but mostly she just makes me cringe. I'd hate to watch one of her films while suffering from a hangover!
Overall, "He Stayed For Breakfast" is one of those inocuous little comedys that can be pleasing, but makes one ready for lunch shortly afterwards. I compare it to showing up at a breakfast for eggs and bacon, and only ending up with toast and coffee-easy to stay awake for, but desperate for a little something else.
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