19 July 2010 | drednm
Gloria Swanson Shines
Two years after her phenomenal success in SUNSET BOULEVARD, Gloria Swanson returned to the screen in this low-budget but very charming comedy.
Swanson plays Ann Haven, a runaway actress who stows away on a train headed for the West Coast. She and her daughter (Janine Perreau) barge into the compartment and life of a famous scientist (James Warren) who gets embroiled in their crazy Hollywood life because Swanson's manager and publicist are also on the train.
Furious that she has been passed over for the role of Cleopatra, Swanson is headed west to have it out with her studio. Her yes men (Fred Clark and Hans Conried) try everything to dissuade her from quitting the studio. In the meantime, she has a fling with the professor. Others onboard include a ditzy socialite (Margaret Dumont), a drunk (Percy Helton), a Brandoesque actor (Steve Brodie), and an accommodating steward (Ernest Anderson).
Swanson, who looks terrific out of her severe Norma Desmond drag, is the whole show here as the temperamental actress why finds love. She has a nice breezy comedy style, and after nearly 40 years in front of the cameras (she made her film debut in 1914), she knows every trick of the trade. Warren, stuck with the dumb- cluck professor role, doesn't get much of a chance to do anything. The rest of the cast is solid.
Not the funniest film you'll ever see, but worth a look to see the legendary Gloria Swanson in action. Despite the "B" status of this film, Swanson was determined to not play more Norma Desmond parts, which is what she was offered after the huge comeback she made in SUNSET BOULEVARD. At age 52 (or so) parts were rare. Although this film was a box-office bomb and did nothing to cement her comeback, she probably made a wise choice in trying a comedy.