5 May 2013 | jjnxn-1
Utterly entrancing comic fantasy with a captivating Veronica Lake.
The film is a light as air concoction directed by Rene Clair at breakneck speed which suits the material perfectly. The brief running time doesn't allow for any superfluous characters or dialogue and the film is cast with performers that make every second on screen count.
Robert Benchley is a scream as March's increasingly befuddled best friend while Elizabeth Patterson shows up doing the flustered housekeeper that she did so well. The only other two parts aside from the leads of any importance are filled by Cecil Kellaway as Veronica's father, a basically cruel character who he makes seem more impish than mean by the jaunty air he brings to the part. Then there's Susan Hayward, in a role that really moved her forward and one that she attacks with great relish, the beauty who would be a prize where she not a total shrew.
While all those players are excellent the two who make the picture great are the leads. They are a beguiling pair seemingly completely swept away with their adoration of each other. Their chemistry is delightful which is extraordinary since behind the scenes they openly loathed each other. Veronica was a complicated woman burdened with extreme psychological problems which led her to have a prickly personality and causing her to often have conflicts with both actors and crews. However in this case she was probably justified. March although a great actor was a notorious hot pants putting the make on anything that moved, when she rebuffed him he spent the remainder of the film treating her like dirt under his talented feet. She struck back by various methods probably the best being placing weights under her dress during a scene where he had to carry her repeatedly. Be that as it may both were too professional to allow their animosity to show on screen.
This is probably the best showcase Veronica ever had, This Gun for Hire is a close second, she is at all times seductive, alluring, humorous and seems to carry a gossamer glow with her wherever she goes. A pity she didn't have a chance to do more comedies during her brief heyday since she was so adept at them.
A gem of a film, see it!