27 March 2017 | istara
Interesting and rather absurd comedy romance
It's hard to know what to make of "Accent on Youth". So many things happen in it that just seem odd to to the point of implausible.
The basic plot is that:
1. Secretary Linda is in love with her older boss, playwright Steven, who has been oblivious to her feelings.
2. An old girlfriend suddenly appears, Steven decides to retire and go off with her to Finland
3. He discharges Linda, who then declares her love for him.
4. Suddenly Steven un-retires and hires Linda to star in his new play. (No mention of how his old girlfriend takes this).
Confused? That's only the start of this weird journey. The script ranges from melodrama through romance to sheer wincing awkwardness. It's at times arch, at other times pretentious, at other times simply implausible. "Hey! Let me look at you! Linda, you're strange, grand, lovely. No, no, no, don't go away. Let me look at you some more!" Even the legendary velvet tones of Herbert Marshall can't de-cringe this.
Linda does the play. Then there's another mix-up, where Steven thinks young actor Dickie is involved with her. He storms home, Linda storms to his place, they have a row, and then they make up. They decide to get married. Perfect. Had the film ended here, it might have been reasonably pleasant and plausible.
But wait, there's more...
Dickie pops around and whinges to Steven. Steven clears out, Linda comes round, and in a few minutes is kissing Dickie passionately (bear in mind she's had every chance to do so before) and then marries him rather than Steven. What follows is a bizarre honeymoon where he spends all his time trying to get her to exercise, accompanied by his two friends. Although maybe there's a really obvious subtext here that I missed? There were presumably more than a few Hollywood marriages where the groom's "close friend" popped along for the ride.
Anyway, Linda flees back to Steven and they end up together. Again. For what appears to be the third time in this bizarre story.
Don't get me wrong, I loved this movie for all its absurdity. It has endless dialogue from Herbert Marshall for starters, which makes anything watchable/listenable.
It's just hard to know how to take it.
Bonus observation: the kissing by Herbert Marshall AWFUL, when kissing either Sylvia Sidney or Astrid Allwyn. (Sylvia does just fine with Phillip Reed/Dickie). I realise the Hay's Code had likely kicked in by the time this movie was released, but seriously. Check out the embrace about thirteen minutes in. "How was it?" Herbert Marshall asks. "Not bad!" Astrid Allwyn replies.
No, Astrid. It was bad. It was very very very bad. Be glad you didn't end up going to Finland with him.