20 September 2008 | blanche-2
More Warner Bros substandard garbage for Kay Francis
Kay Francis is a "Comet Over Broadway" in this 1938 sudser also starring Ian Hunter, Minna Gombell, John Litel, Donald Crisp, Sybil Jason. These melodramas Warners threw at Kay to try to force her and her $200,000+ salary out of there always seem like they were made 7 or 8 years earlier. In this one, Kay is Eve Appleton, an aspiring actress in a small town, looked on disapprovingly by her mother-in-law but loved by her bumpkin husband Bill (Litel). When a Barrymore-like (read washed up drunk) actor from New York hits town, he takes an interest in Kay's "talent." When he's through auditioning her, he's dead, Bill has life imprisonment for murder and she and her baby are on their way to New York so she can make money to free him.
Yeah, it gets better. Eve does the burlesque and vaudeville route, along the way meeting Tim (Gombell) who offers to take daughter Jackie until Eve gets established. Once in New York, she meets and falls in love with a producer, Bert Balin (Keith), and he with her. He casts her in a play, but his girlfriend, the star, orders her fired. So Eve goes to London in order to get away from the temptation of Bert. There she becomes a huge star and reunites with Jackie, who calls Tim 'Mommy.' She also reconnects with Bert, who offers her a play in New York. Since Bill's attorney needs money to free Bill (apparently by bribing public officials, it's not clear), Eve takes an advance on her salary. WIth Bill soon to be free, what does she do about her career and Balin? This absolutely preposterous dreck was directed by Busy Berkeley until he was hospitalized, and then John Farrow took over. All it needed was a big dance number. Eve doesn't want her husband ever to learn about this enormous career - how is that supposed to be accomplished? Didn't the town know? This film was made in 1938, not 2008, and stage stars like Katherine Cornell and Eve LaGalliene were well known to people even in small towns because they toured with their plays. And how did this guy end up in jail for murder 1 to begin with? There was a fight and the actor landed in a pond with a fatal head injury. No manslaughter? But the judge gave him a break and didn't impose the death penalty. He thought this guy was coming onto his wife! I won't even go into Tim never bothering to mention that Eve was her mother.
The acting by Kay Francis and one of my favorites, Ian Keith, is excellent, and they do the best they can to raise up the level of this film. Unfortunately they're fighting a losing battle. Minna Gombell is pretty good, if stagy, as Tim, and John Litel is appropriately simpleton.
As for how this film truly ends, I wouldn't DREAM of giving it away, but if you listen carefully, there's a line that promises us that the end we see is not the true end. Not that it matters.
Oh, of mild interest for one line spoken by future star Susan Hayward during the amateur theatrics scene.