13 November 2018 | TheLittleSongbird
The main interest points in seeing 'Mannequin' were that it was directed by Frank Borzage, a director who deserved and still does deserve more credit, and the great cast, with Joan Crawford and Spencer Tracy in their only collaboration together. That is perhaps the film's biggest draw, that they were great on their own is reason enough to see anything of theirs but seeing them together in a rare pairing is even more so.
With those things taken into account, 'Mannequin' had all the makings to be a charming film. Which it on the most part is. Not perfect or great, and Crawford, Tracy and Borzage have all done better, but 'Mannequin' is a nice undemanding film that doesn't feel too simplistic or too challenging and doesn't try to do or be more than necessary. While not a must see 'Mannequin' does have more than enough to warrant more exposure.
'Mannequin' may have corny and melodramatic parts and moments that don't quite ring true, do not expect reality here and that is including the ending (which admittedly does also strike a chord emotionally). A few of the early scenes are a bit static.
Alan Curtis does his best bringing smarmy charm to his role, but the character is too one-dimensional unpleasant for the charm to properly convince.
However, 'Mannequin' is beautifully filmed, clearly loving Crawford (looking radiantly photogenic) and those costumes are to die for. While not one that will stay long in the memory, the score fits and complements the film well and doesn't feel like it should have belonged somewhere else. The script has wit and emotion, much of the film is far from dull once it gets going and the story has a lovely poignancy and intimacy (the dance floor scene is a lovely moment and interesting from an interaction stand-point, pointed out already) on the most part,
Borzage directs with his usual sensitivity and he definitely seems at home here. What makes 'Mannequin' especially worth watching is the cast. Whether Crawford is believable as a young working class girl is debatable, but that doesn't matter when she gives a performance so charming and deeply felt. Tracy underplays sympathetically and more than appealingly, they make a lovely pairing. Shrewd Leo Gorcey and movingly sincere Elizabeth Risdon are particularly good in support.
On the whole, nice pretty good film. 7/10 Bethany Cox