14 May 2008 | blanche-2
And one was a lying snake
Robert Cummings, Laraine Day and Jean Muir star in "And One Was Beautiful," a 1940 film also starring Billie Burke. At one hour and 15 minutes, this looks to have been a B movie. Cummings is a playboy, Ridley Crane, whom many women desire, including two sisters, Katherine and Helen Latimer (Day and Muir). Katherine is the more earthbound of the two who likes to fix cars, and Helen is the blonde social butterfly with the beautiful gowns. Ridley arrives back in town, and, believing he's not going to be at a party, Helen decides not to attend. Since the party is given by a family friend, their mother (Burke) sends Katherine in a pinned up dress. Ridley is there, and the two connect. But Ridley is into more superficiality, and when he sees Helen at a dinner party, the two pick up where they left off and go to a club. He becomes terribly drunk, and Helen at first refuses to ride in his car because he won't let her drive. After walking awhile and breaking the heel of her shoe, she gets into Ridley's car when he drives by. He passes out, and she takes over the wheel, accidentally hitting and killing a bicyclist.
Ridley can't remember anything, so Helen lets him take the blame for the death. The heel of a woman's shoe is found in the car, and Katherine sees her sister bury her shoes - plus, something in Helen's manner makes her realize that Helen isn't telling the truth. Ridley is convicted and goes to prison, and Helen marries a man she doesn't love and leaves for South America.
This is a wonderful film, even though at the time, this wasn't an A-list cast. Cummings is playing a part that Robert Taylor would have played (it's an MGM film) - he's handsome and very amiable, even if he doesn't have the dazzling looks of someone like Taylor. Laraine Day is a favorite actress of mine, someone MGM loaned out constantly because they didn't know what to do with her. Why, I wonder - a wonderful actress with a great face and voice, she livened up many a film. This one is no different. Her Katherine is determined, sympathetic and totally lovely. Jean Muir is a lousy actress.
So who was the beautiful one? We all know even if MGM didn't.
Highly recommended little gem.