20 November 2006 | Derutterj-1
Columbia Showing A Little Style
MINOR SPOILER ALERT.
Saw this at a Library of Congress screening in the Spring of 2003; it was a pleasing, if minor, Depression-era diversion. By this I mean it was (and is) a perfect way for any put-upon person to lose 73 minutes. "Cocktail Hour" has almost no edgy, precode vibes, a la Warner Bros. Instead there're attractive well-dressed people in chic apartments (better art direction then I expected from Columbia) doing moderately interesting, but non-taxing things, and a shipboard romance capped by Bebe Daniels warbling a cute song. Randolph Scott had just come from doing a batch of memorable Paramount B-Westerns. This was one of his only loan-outs during this period, and the chemistry between the two leads is just fine.
Melodrama intrudes into "Cocktail Hour" once the cast reaches Paris, including a threatening character getting shoved through a window, but rather then jar this works to keep things lively. Budgetary constraints mean no exteriors, either in the early "Manhattan" sequences or in "Paris"you have to use your imaginationbut it's OK; whatever you do see is slick enough to get by. Being a second tier studio, Columbia couldn't or wouldn't bring a first-rate supporting cast together for every production, and as a result "Cocktail Hour" had to settle for, along with a lot of other people I didn't recognize, the obscure Muriel Kirkland as an amusing fake countess (Dennis O'Keefe was listed in the IMDb credits doing a bit, but I didn't notice him). All in all, good escapism.