31 March 2019 | friedlandea
The operative word is fun. That's the only way to take an Arsene Lupin story, book or movie. This movie gets the right spirit.
I have read a number of the Arsene Lupin books - not all by any means - in French, since I spend a lot of time in France. Maybe it's a different feel in English translation, but I doubt it. No one can take the plots seriously, or the characters for that matter. The plotlines are over the top: the "four great mysteries;" a fountain of youth, etc. The characters are even more far-fetched. In short, if you try to take the stuff seriously you'll end up throwing the book across the room. If a movie version tried to do it seriously it would end up flat on its face. That's the beauty of this "Arsene Lupin." It hits the right spirit: just have a good time; let the Barrymore brothers loose, let them ham it up, sit back and enjoy.
Karen Morley did a filmed interview in 1992. You can find it on-line. Toward the end, the interviewer asked which of her films she liked doing the most. She was in some good ones, before her independent spirit got in her way and she broke her MGM contract: "Scarface:' "Mata Hari:' "Dinner at Eight;" "Black Fury;" "Our Daily Bread;" "Gabriel Over the White House;" later "Pride and Prejudice." I expected her to say "Scarface." She said "Arsene Lupin" because it was fun. She and Jack Barrymore, she said, had fun. You can see it on screen. They're all having fun. (Tully Marshall looks like he wants to laugh half the time.) The sleep-walking scene is hilarious. And the scene where she's naked in Barrymore's bed. A gem. Karen Morley had an unusual style, understated. She makes you want to get inside her head, since she won't make her emotions obvious on the surface. It is sometimes disconcerting. But it makes you watch her closely. She also said, perhaps jokingly, in the interview, "I wasn't very good, I think, (in that movie) but it was fun." I thought she was very good, and smart. You can't out-act John Barrymore when he wants to ham it up. So smile (she had a wonderful smile) and let him do his thing. Both Barrymores do their thing. They catch the spirit of Maurice LeBlanc's outrageous characters marvelously. My recommendation: have a beer or two, or a glass of Bordeaux, then settle in to watch this film. You'll have a perfect evening's entertainment.