21 March 2011 | marcslope
More Mae madness
A Mae Murray fashion parade: She's queen of a mythical Ruritanian kingdom called, yes, Jazzmania, and as she bolts for America while evil Jean Hersholt (nice seeing him play something other than a boring nice guy) attempts to overthrow the monarchy, she assumes a number of disguises that require many, many costume changes. What Murray does isn't exactly acting, it's more posturing and self-consciously posing, and dancing, the same moves over and over. But it isn't dull. This one was made at a time when title cards strove to be witty and satirical, and the writing's not bad. And the production design is stunning--what a luscious Art Nouveau kingdom Mae inhabits. Leading man Rod La Rocque contributes some sanity amid Mae's self-absorption, and director Robert Z. Leonard, then married to Ms. Murray, was a first-rate studio hack. Not a very good movie, but a good look at what it meant to be a movie star long, long ago, and certainly nice to look at.