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Robert Z. Leonard
To save his job, newsman Jeff Sherman offers to help his boss get out of a swingeing alimony settlement. But his devious plan to compromise Cornelia Porter, the judge on the case, while she is on holiday at Cape Cod soon proves to be - well - too devious! Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
DESIGN FOR SCANDAL (1941) Walter Pidgeon, Rosalind Russell Lively Script. Pidgeon orchestrates a scandal to help his boss get even with a judge (Russell) for a ruling in a divorce case. Pidgeon, a fixer/reporter (more like an experienced con-man) is an amoral opportunist. Russell, the judge, is cold and emotionally walled-off from the world as Pidgeon tries to seduce and compromise her.
In my opinion Pidgeon deserved to be indicted despite how glib and affable he was.
Pidgeon's performance is adequate, he's likable as always. Russell is also adequate and beautiful. But I was distanced from immersion into the story by both of their slightly wooden line delivery. I kept getting the sense they were speaking lines, acting. The script was snappy, maybe that was the problem? Too snappy for ordinary people to be saying.
I think that's one of the problems with these movies from the 40's that have such great writing. It undermines the credibility of our character identification. Who speaks like that? Who is that smart, that quick? Yet it's the same thing we enjoy so much, the thing that makes such movies rise above the rest.
So, the answer is to have characters that the audience can believe are smart enough to be delivering such quick-witted comebacks.
Also, the deliveries from the two lead characters here sounded a bit overly rehearsed.
I liked this movie from the start and as it developed but drifted away emotionally during the last act.
Lots of wonderful supporting cast including the great (and aging) Edward Arnold, the ubiquitous Guy Kibbee, and Leon Belasco (playing a sculptor).
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