An affair is almost exposed when Claire's husband unexpectedly returns early from Summer Olympics.An affair is almost exposed when Claire's husband unexpectedly returns early from Summer Olympics.An affair is almost exposed when Claire's husband unexpectedly returns early from Summer Olympics.An affair is almost exposed when Claire's husband unexpectedly returns early from Summer Olympics.An affair is almost exposed when Claire's husband unexpectedly returns early from Summer Olympics.
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
Hilarious pre-code from Paramount has Roland Young playing Gerald Gray, a man dating a married woman (Thelma Todd). Things take a turn for the worse when the couple return to her home to find her husband (Cary Grant) there and in order to stay out of trouble the man's best friend (Charles Ruggles) tells the husband that the friend is actually married and the happy couple are on their way to Venice. The husband, not a bit fooled, decides to go along on the trip so the friend must find a fake wife (Lili Damita) to go along with the plan. This is a remake of a 1926 film and it's based on the play Naughty Cinderella. The naughty is certainly correct because this Paramount comedy has quite a few pre-code elements that would soon find themselves banned. Needless to say, having a film centered around a married woman dating other men was certainly a no no but it makes for one great laugh after another. After viewing the film I was really shocked to see that it wasn't more popular because the familiar cast is terrific and we get so many sexual jokes that it really stands out. The dialogue certainly implies many dirty jokes including one bit about "B.J." as well as our two lead actresses showing some skin. Of course we don't get any actual nudity but there's a very charming scene of Damita proving she can be naughty by taking her clothes off and coming off like a vixen. There's also a running joke with Todd constantly getting her clothes ripped off in a variety of ways. Both women have their legs constantly being shown as well as every other bit of skin they can get on camera. These elements certainly give the film a fresh touch and a pretty sexual one as well. Then we have the terrific performances that make the film memorable. Damita, who I had just seen in FRIENDS AND LOVERS, is must better here and in fact turns in a hilarious performance. I was really shocked to see how great she was here because her comic timing is right on the mark and she also plays the more dramatic, romantic moments just as well. Her coming timing really makes her character come to life and her previously mentioned seduction scene was priceless. Ruggles nearly steals the film as the silly assistant who gets this whole thing started. Todd delivers one of the best performances I've seen from her as her timing is great and just check out the wonderful scene where her married character gets jealous by her lover's fake wife. Young is also right on the mark and his chemistry with Damita is great. Then we have Cary Grant in his first role. I was surprised to see how natural he was but he plays the jerkish husband to perfection. I think the film starts to wear thin during the final act when every ones love starts to pour out but everything leading up to this is quite priceless. The performances, sexuality and laughs make this a must-see for fans of classic cinema.
- Jan 19, 2011