A fascinating curio, Impatient Maiden reveals director James Whales' cinema style as well as his personal evasiveness.
This slice-of-life romantic drama concerns one Ruth Robbins, effectively portrayed by Mae Clark. By day, a secretary to a divorce attorney, Ruth brushes up against life one broken marriage at a time. At home, a neighbor's wife attempts suicide when her husband leaves her and it's left to Ruth to summon an ambulance. So when ambulance driver Myron Brown sparks Ruth's interest, Ruth's own cynical attitudes become her biggest obstacle. Distain for marriage and having personal obstacles were themes which may have found resonance to the personally challenged James Whale. He presents his tableau in matter-of-fact style, without undue emphases: Ruth's lonely plight is just something she does everyday.
Lew Ayers as Myron Brown displays a natural ease in his role, and with Whale blocking for him he'll never look better. Supporting roles are well cast. An early Andy Devine keeps the dramatic tone from sinking. On the distaff side, an ebullient Una Merkel is on hand to perk up Ruth. Great casting and solid performances maintain a balance that makes this film more "accessible" than others of this ilk.
The presentation is smartly handled, too. A Whale trademark was a scene transition that followed characters from room to room by tracking the camera through the wall. Though the end of the wall gets a close-up, the viewer's perception is priority. Rose walks from one end of her apartment to the other and in one shot the limits of her 3 room flat are established. Indeed, the film opens with an establishing sequence when Rose leaves for work. In a location shot, she quits her flat into a rundown neighborhood and boards Angel's Flight. She continues her conversation as Arthur Edeson's camera boards and rides down a piece of history. The viewer gets a real feel for what Ruth's life is like.
The attraction between Ruth and Myron is advanced and retracted like waves on the beach. Love can't catch a break until the last reel. Elusive love, what fun the chase is, especially in this film. Recommended.
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