22 April 2017 | dougdoepke
An Odd Friendship
Plot-- Clever con-man Orloff uses fashion model Picot to gain entrée into French high society. Once situated among the rich, his financial swindle proceeds. In return, he rewards Picot with her own fashion house, which soon prospers. But what will happen to their bonded relationship if Picot's con game is discovered.
That opening of elegant models parading down the runway is a grabber. As one of the models, Picot (Francis) commands with regal stature and a compelling gaze. On the other hand, Orloff (Rains) commands with voice and smooth demeanor, despite his short stature. Together, they're an interesting, though hardly romantic, pair.
It's really the two charismatic leads that carry the film. The con game thread is not emphasized, rather the odd relationship between the two amounts to the main thread. It's ultimately a bond of friendship and gratitude that endures, despite Picot's romance with the rather callow Wayne (Hunter). I'm not sure how convincing the relationship is since the narrative is more intent on using it rather than explaining its steadfastness. I wish that key part were more strongly written. And though talk dominates, the film's well-mounted, while Curtiz directs with a smooth tempo that never drags. Also, a rotund, aging Allison Skipworth as Picot's assistant adds a colorful touch of lemony spice.
In passing-- Catch that biplane the twosome travels to France in. It may be the ugliest example of flight engineering I've seen. Note also presence of commanding Frank Conroy as a police inspector. His fearsomely dominating Maj. Tetley in the classic Ox- Bow Incident (1943) certainly deserved Oscar recognition. Here he gets a few moments of that.
Overall, the movie's mainly a showcase for the two leads, without being anything special.