5.9/10
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8 user 4 critic

Delicious (1931)

A comic group of Europeans coming to the USA have romantic and immigration troubles.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
... Heather Gordon
... Larry Beaumont
... Chris Jansen
... Sascha
Lawrence O'Sullivan ... Detective O'Flynn
... Olga
... Diana Van Bergh
... Mrs. Van Bergh
... Mischa
Marvine Maazel ... Toscha
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Storyline

A varied group of immigrants head for the USA aboard S.S. Mauronia, including Russians Sascha, Mischa, Toscha, and Olga. Sascha has fallen for Scots lassie Heather; Olga is courted by Chris Jansen, valet of first class passenger Larry Beaumont. Heather catches Larry's eye, to the discomfiture of Larry's other flame Diana. On arrival, Heather has immigration trouble, and a variety of complications ensue... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

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Details

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Release Date:

27 December 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Deliciosa  »

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Sound Mix:

(MovieTone)

Color:

(Multicolor)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Sascha: I gave a bride away once.
Chris Jansen: You should have let the husband find out for himself.
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Connections

Referenced in Hollywood Hist-o-Rama: Janet Gaynor (1962) See more »

Soundtracks

Katinkitschka
(uncredited)
Music by George Gershwin
Lyrics by Ira Gershwin
Sung by Mischa Auer, Manya Roberti; danced with Janet Gaynor
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User Reviews

 
It's delightful, it's delicious, it's...oops, wrong composer
11 July 2006 | by See all my reviews

Delicious is a word of four syllables ("De-li-shee-ous") as pronounced by our heroine and in the title tune. Not one of the Gershwins' better-known songs, and for good reason, it is nonetheless sweet, catchy, and disarming in its modest wittiness, just like the whole movie. This is a soufflé-type film: it could easily have fizzled into a flabby mess, with its improbable plot, creaky class stereotypes and heavy ethnic humor. Instead it's a delight from beginning to end, as irresistible as its leading lady.

Janet Gaynor plays Heather Gordon, a Scottish lassie immigrating to America on her own. We know from the first scene that the film is set in cloud-cuckoo-land, where steerage passengers are all colorfully dressed peasants who speak accented English, sleep in clean, cozy cabins and amuse themselves by playing the tunes of their native lands on deck. Heather has fallen in with a Russian family headed by Mischa Auer, a warm-hearted volatile bunch including composer Sascha (Raul Roulien), who is in love with Heather and writes the song "Delicious" for her. (Don't ask why they all speak English or how he learned to write tin pan alley songs.) While trespassing in first class, Heather meets Laurence Beaumont (Charles Farrell), a rich polo-player who is instantly smitten with her. On reaching Ellis Island, Heather is told she can't enter the country because her uncle has rescinded his offer to support her, but she slips away from the irascible immigration agents and escapes from the boat. The remainder of the movie follows Heather's efforts to evade the police, her budding but ever thwarted romance with Larry, and her friendship with the Russians, who take her in and make her part of their café act.

Janet Gaynor's Scottish accent slips on and off like a wobbly tam-o'-shanter, but she's so adorable it doesn't matter. I saw Delicious as part of MoMA's centennial retrospective of Gaynor's films, and I can't get over her talent. Not only was she a great actress, she was a charming dancer and singer. Here she sings "Somebody from Somewhere" to the accompaniment of a musical whiskey bottle(!) She's such an appealing waif, it's hard to buy the convention whereby she is invariably abused and mistreated in her films; at least here she's spunky. Charles Farrell is always handsome and likable, but his role is a bland nonentity. To make matters worse, his rival Sascha is also attractive, deeply in love with Heather, and a genius to boot—all of his music sounds just like Gershwin! It's hard not to feel that Janet falls in love with Charles simply because they're an established team. Heather's rival, on the other hand, a society husband-hunter played by Virginia Cherrill, is thoroughly hateful. Comedy is provided by El Brendel as Larry's bumbling Swedish valet. Despite an annoying "yumping Yimminy" accent, he has some very funny moments and a few mildly "pre-Code" lines, as when Heather says that some over-sized pajamas are better than nothing, and he responds, "That's debatable."

Delicious is smoothly and even gracefully made for an early talkie. Gershwin's Second Rhapsody is the backdrop for an expressionistic sequence in which the despairing Heather wanders around Manhattan, intimidated by crowds, looming buildings, the clatter of the elevated trains, riveters working on a skeletal skyscraper, and the misty, sinister docks. Obvious back-projection does not diminish this dream-like sequence, and neither the smashing music nor the dramatic imagery upstages Gaynor's expressive acting. Always understated and natural, she retains from silent movies a transparent face and the power to make a stone cry. For all her sweetness, she is never cloying. Her prettiness is distinctive, not conventional, and there's enough pepper in her characters to counteract the sugary plots. Though largely forgotten today apart from her roles in Sunrise and A Star is Born, Gaynor was on top in Hollywood for a few years, and it's easy to see why.


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