21 September 2003 | Ron Oliver
A Little Larceny Goes A Long Way
A proper Englishman & an American crook help THE WIDOW FROM MONTE CARLO retrieve her stolen love letter.
Fast-moving & fun, this is another example of the comedy crime picture that Warner Brothers was so expert at producing in the 1930's. Casts & plots could be shuffled endlessly, with very predictable results, and while this assembly line approach created few classics, audience enjoyment could usually be assured. This very amusing little film - only an hour long - fits the mold perfectly; it's slick plot quickly transporting the viewer from Monaco to Cannes, London and Margate. With a fine cast and plenty of lively humor, it's a shame that it is almost completely forgotten.
Lovely Dolores Del Rio, in the title role, plays a woman straining under the constraints of nearly a year's mourning for her noble husband. She is at her most vulnerable when she is swept up by sophisticated Warren William, who sees what he likes and goes after it. The two stars, with their very different personas, work well together and give a definite sparkle to the story.
For such a short film there is an unusually rich supporting cast. Louise Fazenda stirs up lots of laughs as a fiercely aggressive social climber; as her marmalade manufacturing spouse, Herbert Mundin gives her unassuming, affable support. Together, they enjoy the movie's most hilarious scene when they attempt to follow Del Rio & William through Margate's Dreamland fun house.
A fastidious Colin Clive plays Del Rio's stuffy fiancé ; Warren Hymer is very amusing as the American tough guy who takes a shine to the two lovers; E. E. Clive, Mary Forbes & Eily Malyon glow in their tiny roles as Del Rio's overly protective aristocratic in-laws; Olin Howland sports a British accent as a gambling butler.
Movie mavens will recognize an uncredited Billy Bevan as an English constable with a black eye.