5 August 2020 | dglink
The Rich also Suffered during the Great Depression
Sparkling with stardust and glitter from the gowns and jewelry, "Chained" is romantic fluff from the Golden Age of Metro Goldwyn Mayer. Elegant Diane Lovering is the mistress of wealthy shipping magnate Richard Field, a middle-aged man, whose wife refuses him a divorce. After a confrontation with his wife in front of Diane, Field sends Diane off on an ocean voyage to think about their future together. Bad idea, because Mike Bradley, a handsome wealthy ranch owner from the Argentine, is aboard the liner, and the predictable sparks ignite.
Ah, the problems of the super rich are many in this glossy bauble. Joan Crawford as Diane parades sequined gowns and various hairstyles, while she ponders, suffers, and weeps glycerine tears and weighs her alternatives: wealth and social position in New York or wealth and a hunky husband in Argentina; either way, she eats and dresses well, while outside the movie theater Americans endured the Great Depression. Undeniable star power propels this short light-weight drama. Stunningly photographed by George Folsey and directed by Clarence Brown in gowns by Adrian, Crawford glows as the epitome of 1930's movie glamour. Clark Gable as Mike is equally glamorous and bigger than life; his instantly likeable personality and legendary looks captivate.
Beyond the two above-the-title stars, the supporting cast is more than capable to carry the gossamer-thin storyline; led by Otto Kruger as Gable's rival for Crawford, the character players include Stuart Erwin as Mike's buddy, Una O'Connor as Diane's maid, and Akim Tamiroff as a gourmet chef. Future star Mickey Rooney is hard to miss in a brief stint in the ship's swimming pool. Escapist entertainment like "Chained" distracted audiences from the pain of the Depression in the 1930's. However, contemporary viewers may chuckle at the whimsical problems amid the excessive wealth displayed on screen: lunch at the Colony, lodging at the St. Regis, luxury liner suites, vast haciendas, and cavernous apartments. Despite the predicable feather-weight story, MGM had stars that merited their stardom, and Crawford and Gable were at the pinnacle. For them alone, "Chained" merits watching.