17 May 2010 | st-shot
Crawford Gable vehicle offers decent ride.
Diane Lovering (Joan Crawford) is about to win the lottery by wresting away ocean liner CEO Richard Field (Otto Kruger) from his harridan spouse who refuses to give him a divorce. Needing more time to convince his wife otherwise he sends Diane on a lengthy cruise replete with maid and a stateroom the size of a small cafeteria. On board she meets Mike Bradley a rancher in Argentina who attempts to romance her. After slowly wearing Diane down she resolves to return to the states and break it off with Field but when she sees what the tycoon has sacrificed for her she goes through with the marriage. Wealthy beyond her wildest dreams and loved by a decent man she is still nagged by her decision when she bumps into Bradley at a gun store a year later.
Gable and Crawford never looked better in this above average entry of their numerous teamings together. In more than one scene we are treated to cinematographer George Folsey's cameras warm embrace of the handsome Gable and radiant Crawford offering concrete evidence of the icons they were and remain. The star wattage however is dimmed by the rational and civil discourse displayed by Field who maintains decorum throughout even in the face of possibly losing his new wife to Bradley. In addition Diane for a good chunk of the film has to check her passion as she attempts to keep Bradley at arm's length. But whether in conversation or a clinch these two sharing the screen together constantly reinforce Norma Desmond's Sunset Boulevard declaration about pictures with matchless chemistry.
Crawford, more restrained, sophisticated and understanding than in most of her roles gives one of the better performances of her career. Garbo director Clarence Brown might have had some influence in toning her performance down but for the most part he maintains a steady framing of the two leads struggling with coitus interruptus.
Otto Kruger as Field is decent and noble in the face of the calamity he faces, maybe too much to the film's detriment. Stu Erwin is annoying as Mike's flunky while Oona Mundsin as Diane's maid casts more glances than dialogue. There are brief moments of ethnic insensitivity with some at the expense of Akim Tamiroff who nevertheless gets the biggest laugh in this otherwise well mannered and tame romantic melodrama that succeeds solely on the merit of its well showcased charismatic leads at the top of their game.