19 September 2014 | atlasmb
Early Crawford and Gable in an intelligent film
I am not a Joan Crawford fan, but I have come to appreciate her acting, especially in her early career. This film, released in 1931, shows her promise as an actress (not to mention Gable, who always displayed a magnetism that lit up the screen). Joan would star in another film titled "Possessed" in 1947, but they are two different stories. In this pre-Code story, adapted from a play, she is Marian Martin, a small-town girl who works in a box factory, but is determined to get ahead, though she sees no prospects locally.
A train passing through town slows and stops in front of her. Through the windows, she sees highlights of the high life, the life of the big city, promising wealth and romance. It is a wonderful scene. As a result, she makes her way to New York City, where she meets Mark Whitney (Clark Gable), a wealthy, unmarried attorney who immediately likes her no-nonsense honesty. They become involved, but he has no plans to marry her.
Crawford is vivacious and convincing in the role, showing a wide range of emotions. The film spotlights her beauty and her talent. In one scene, she sings in French, German and English. The song is "How Long Will it Last?"--an appropriate choice. The script is intelligent and the directing is clever and inventive.
There is only one section of the film that did not ring true, but it sets up a scene that is the dramatic climax of the film. As a whole, this film is well worth seeing.