It didn't seem to matter if the story was flimsy - Gary Cooper was already a heart-throb around the Paramount studio and being teamed with Clara Bow, his female equivalent, was viewed with anticipation. But it didn't go to plan - Cooper who had been mainly in out door epics, was like a fish out of water in this sophisticated drama. After a few days Cooper was sacked and replaced by Douglas Gilmore a more experienced actor but Clara had campaigned behind the scenes on Cooper's behalf and he was reinstated.
The movie started out as a daring, topical drama but not even Clara could
save it. Most cinema goers found Esther Ralston mechanical and Gary
Cooper unconvincing. I thought it was a case of Paramount trying to
widen Clara's appeal but it didn't really work - apart from her initial
scenes there was just too much pathos and until the end her character
Jean and Kitty meet in a French convent, both products of the divorce
rage with parents eager to get back into the single swing and not
wanting a child cramping their style (Joyce Coad makes a very appealing
Years later they are both young debs - Kitty (Clara Bow) is the life of any
party, yet as a child she lacked confidence. Maybe explained by her
mercenary mother (Hedda Hopper, who else?) that because of their
financial position she must marry money!! That's too bad for Prince Vico
(Einar Hansen) an impoverished aristocrat who really loves Kitty who in
turn returns his love. Jean (Ralston) on the other hand is supposed to be
the richest girl in America - she catches the eye of Ted Larabee (Cooper),
the wild boy of the group who remembers a childhood promise of marriage
they both made to each other. Jean will not agree to the marriage - Ted
is now one of the idle rich where once he had ambition to be an
engineer and she wants him to find his self respect again. Kitty is determined
that the only bridges he will be connected with are the ones he burns!!
She takes him out for a night of revelry and he wakes up married - to
Kitty who has tricked him into it!! Two years later, Jean has vowed never
to marry even though receiving a proposal from Vico who truthfully
confesses he can't give her his love!!
You can see it's a pretty doleful movie, no one is really happy and when
Kitty finally tries to make amends by asking for a divorce when she
realises that Vico still carries a torch for her, she finds no joy there either
as his family will not allow him to marry a divorced woman. Clara has
some emotive moments but Gary Cooper was the only actor to receive
any glory - for his first leading role he is a stand out, you can't take your
eyes from him!! And the restoration just illuminates Travis Banton's
(although uncredited) luminous gowns, they are breath taking.
A bit of back stage gossip - none of the big wigs liked the movie but
they couldn't shelve such an expensive A grade movie so they got in
Josef Von Sternberg as a "movie doctor" to fix up many of the scenes.
Since all the stars had already started their next movie filming was done
at night and the non stop schedule was brutal!!
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