10 October 2008 | drednm
Sensational Kay Francis
A remake of a 1935 film called MAZURKA and starring Pola Negri, Warners bought the rights and imported the story for Kay Francis, then the studio's #1 female star.
Francis is nothing short of sensational in this film, a story about a woman wronged, motherly love, honor, and sacrifice. By today's standards this all seemed like high fiction, but in the hands of Francis and director Joe May, this becomes a very stylish and absorbing film.
The direction and camera work are excellent. The music is also very good and helps set the scene. The supporting cast is very good also: Basil Rathbone, Jane Bryan, Veda Ann Borg, Ian Hunter, Laura Hope Crews, Donald Crisp, Robert Barrat, Ben Welden, and Mary Maguire.
Francis is stunning here, mostly as a blonde. And she's quite believable as a singer, although the operetta is rather lame. Still she does well with lip syncing to several songs. But she's never turned in a better performance, going from the girlish singer in love, to the bored housewife who drinks a tad too much at a party, to the accused in a murder case. It's a tour de force performance that should have earned her an Oscar nomination.
The film is beautifully directed by Joe May which is a surprise. A few years before this, May butchered a promising film version of the hit show MUSIC IN THE AIR which starred Gloria Swanson and John Boles. But here his direction is excellent, with lots of interesting camera angles and movement and some terrific composition. He certainly makes the most of the 86 minutes he has.
They just don't make movies like this any more. This one has a good story, crisp pacing, and stunning work from one of the decades biggest and most underrated stars: KAY FRANCIS.