Society Fever (1935)

Approved   |    |  Comedy, Romance

Society Fever (1935) Poster

A mother starts to get worried when she finds out that some wealthy friends have been invited to dinner with her somewhat screwball family.


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21 December 2010 | rsoonsa
| One Of The Better Examples Of Mid-1930s Second Features Depicts A Comedic Short Look At A Struggling Depression-Era Family.
One Of The Better Examples Of Mid-1930s Second Features Depicts A Comedic Short Look At A Struggling Depression-Era Family.

This low-budgeter is crisply paced by director Frank Strayer, a capable hand at creating this type of second feature during the golden age of U.S. "B" films, and is solidly in control of a studio set-bound work that offers occasional impressive moments, chiefly during those scenes when Lois Wilson appears on screen. Wilson receives able backing from a large cast of, for the most part, veteran studio contracted supporting players. Graham Smith (Lloyd Hughes), a wealthy entrepreneur, arrives at a time-worn mansion inhabited by a once socially prominent family, the Proutys, whose status has sharply declined due to the country's general difficult economic circumstances. Smith intends to utilize the property as part of a site for erecting a factory that he will own. Not long into the narrative occurs the first of several mistaken identity situations, long a staple of light cinematic comedy. Smith and Portia Prouty (Wilson), senior sibling of the family offspring, fall in love immediately upon their meeting, although she is not aware of Graham's intent for her house. He quickly perceives how important to Portia is the intact retention of the Prouty residence, and with all of her relations continuing as its occupants. While the improbable romance is blossoming, we are introduced to a broad array of characters, including Portia's sisters, sirenish Lucy (Sheila Terry) and sprightly Julie (Lois January), her brothers, silly butterfly chasing Allan (Anthony Marsh) and Marine Corps pugilist Edgar (Guinn "Big Boy" Williams), her potty mother (Maidel Turner), and her deaf and cranky uncle Andy (Erville Alderson); in addition to a mendacious lawyer (Grant Withers), along with assorted beaux and snobbish neighbours, the Vandergriffs, their matron performed by Hedda Hopper. All of these gather during the film's high point, a formal dinner at the Prouty home, designed to raise the family's estimation in the eyes of the neighbourhood, in particular those of the trend-setting Vandergriffs. A short (67 minute) work, produced as a second feature, this film is stamped with director Strayer's customary usage of a fixed camera and reliance upon single takes. Released through a "poverty row" studio, Invincible Pictures, its working title was DINNER PARTY and, upon its initial theatre showing, was reviewed in Daily Variety as LOVE FEVER. An unpretentious romantic comedy with a Great Depression background, it is pleasingly light entertainment with but only slight acknowledgement of the period's grim financial landscape. Although the plot line's scenes are mostly forgettable, Wilson, although near the end of her lengthy cinema career, is impressive in a second rate film. The piece is difficult to locate, as there is no commercial print available, in either VHS or DVD format.

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