12 December 1998 | Art-22
An idiotic screenplay sabotages the stars' efforts.
Although Robert Montgomery and Rosalind Russell are two of my favorite performers, I couldn't accept most of what was happening onscreen. The writers tried hard to make this a zany romantic comedy, and it starts out that way, as artist Montgomery meets socialite Russell when she takes a spill while on a fox hunt, right into his easel, and faints after some exchange of words. In the very next scene they're at a justice of the peace getting married! The writers didn't believe in long (or even short) courtships. They are both penniless (Russell throws her purse out of the window of a bus to be at Montgomery's poverty level) and have to extort groceries from grocer Charles Judels, by threatening to yell from the rooftops that he overcharges his customers. So what do they do when her rich uncle sends a $2,000 check, afraid she could not cope with poverty? They frame it and use it for a dartboard. What starving artist would do that? Robert Benchley is sort of a hanger-on, seeming to live with them and drunk most of the time. He's in the film for his witty comments, but seems witless most of the time. After Montgomery's painting causes a riot by sailors and marines in Central Park, gallery owner Monty Woolley (in his first film) becomes interested in Montgomery's work and goes to see him. But the trio has been so inundated by reporters because of the riot, they think he is one of them. In perhaps the funniest scene in the film (if you can ignore its viciousness), they snip his tie, cut his suspenders and pour a pitcher of water on his head. Still, Woolley makes him famous with a special showing of his work, and Russell's friend, Helen Vinson, gets him commissions to make him rich. Russell, however, is unhappy at the change she sees in Montgomery. I winced (as did Montgomery) when she suggests at the gallery showing that they start snipping ties of the patrons. He doesn't paint anymore for pleasure, she complains, but sold out his principles for crass commercialism. She asks for a divorce and leaves him, but they are both unhappy. Well, Montgomery lived and loved, but will he ever learn that making money is not as important as doing what you enjoy most?