1 June 2012 | audiemurph
Nice mini-gem from Bette Davis and Warner Brothers
"The Golden Arrow" is for the most part a delightful, if not heavy-weight, film, and is definitely worth watching all 68 minutes worth. It opens in wild pre-code fashion, with a gaggle of wealthy Depression-era socialites firing arrows into the bathroom of a surprised and very naked man in a bathtub – he actually is shown standing up out of the tub – and he is quite obviously naked, did I mention that? But then the show really begins.
To me the most delightful scene occurs early on, when Bette Davis, playing a rich heiress, invites reporter George Brent to talk to her, and swim with her, in her yacht's little pool, although Brent is only a reporter, and not the rich gentleman she thinks he is. Although never beautiful, Bette Davis comes across as quite attractive in her energetic and perky way in many of her early movies, and I think this scene, in which Davis shows an astounding amount of leg, may be perhaps the sexiest of her career. And her chatter with Brent is quite enjoyable here, perhaps because the scene involves only the two of them, with no weak distracting supporting cast present, even if they both may be wearing the most unflattering and unattractive bathing suits in the history of movies.
Bette Davis totally dominates this movie, completely outclassing all the other actors; even George Brent, always likable, does not try to compete with Bette, instead wisely spending most of the film grim-faced and grumpy. He does have the funniest line in the film, though, when he greets his valet, who he despises, with "Hello, Useless".
Carol Hughes plays the "other" rich heiress in this film, and does not play her role badly; she is not completely unattractive. But it is astounding how weak she is when side-by-side with the great Bette Davis. Or maybe it's the other way around: we really appreciate how magnificent Davis is when we can see her next to some Warner Brother's competition.
In good old Depression-era fashion, the rich snobs of Europe are played as buffoons, and we are asked to cheer Davis' decision to marry a real American – nothing wrong with a little nativism. And Eugene Palette gets a nice little role playing a self-made millionaire common man with a family that drives him completely nuts – a role he played to perfection in that same year of 1936, in the great "My Man Godfrey".
Easily recommended little film, even if ultimately a little predictable.