28 January 2006 | goblinhairedguy
Stylish pre-code romance
This is a rarely-seen but stylish light melodrama from Fox Studios about a globetrotting romantic triangle. The title is derived, appropriately enough, from a poem by sophisticated jazz-age poet Edna St. Vincent Millay -- a poem that speaks of the transience (rather than transcendence) of love.
In Paris, a beautiful young American ballet dancer is involved with an American architectural student (they appear to be sharing living quarters). When she discovers that he has a stateside wife, she hightails it to South America and pairs up with a U.S. engineer. A few years later, they are back in New York when the ex-lover appears out of the blue.
The plot is run-of-the mill and unconvincing, but it's the sophisticated pre-code attitude towards male-female relationships (not unlike "The Common Law") and the fascinating look at early 30s social mores that make the movie worthwhile. There are neat throw-away incidents and comic turns, some clever visual transitions and wonderful set design from co-director William Cameron Menzies. This is particularly true in a bizarre futuristic dance number which features sinewy soldiers in ancient-Egyptian-like gear abducting skimpily-clad dancing girls. There's also a rather jarring sequence set at the construction site of Boulder Dam which is almost ruined by some abysmal back projection.
Elissa Landi, showing off her long limbs, is ethereal as always but lends little depth to the pivotal role. Warner Baxter is his usual masculine self; but the acting honours go to the underrated Victor Jory as the caddish ex-lover, and Miriam Jordan as his sardonic high-society wife. Mischa Auer makes a welcome cameo appearance.