Friday, November 25, 2011

It's Love I'm After (1937)



“You're going to have love for breakfast, love for luncheon and love for dinner. Sweet, sugary, sticky worship. You're going to have a steady diet of it till you're ready to scream - you billygoat!”

            At first I thought It’s Love I’m After was a drama. I mean look at the poster Olivia de Havilland looks pissed off at something and when I think of comedies Leslie Howard and Bette Davis (and even de Havilland for that matter) are not the first actors that come to mind. I thought this was going to be a silly melodrama where Davis and de Havilland fight for Howard. I was very pleasantly surprised when the film started out on the funny side and just completely took off in that direction.
            Basil Underwood (Howard) and Joyce Arden (Davis) are two of the stage's best actors. They are currently on tour with Romeo and Juliet in California on New Years. It is clear they are not on speaking terms as they each hit, say mean things, and block each other at every moment they can. When the show is over they at each other’s throats bickering hurling nasty comments.
            In the audience that night was a star struck young girl named Marcia West (de Havilland). She has it hard for Basil sitting in her seat with the look of undying love and devotion on her face. When the show is over she sneaks away from her fiancé Henry(Patric Knowles) and her parents to go see Basil. She bribes the man at the stage door to let her in and she is more than elated to see her favorite actor. Basil likes her as well because he likes to hear people adoring him.
            Basil and Joyce have an all out ego brawl back at their hotel. Joyce has the door locked and blocked with furniture but Basil comes in through her window. He plays it cool and just gives her a look and she pretty much melts.  It comes to light that they have tried to get married twelve times before but it never works out something always gets in the way. They decide to marry for real this time but then that something that keeps them from marrying comes up again. Henry wants to speak to Basil. Marcia does not want to marry him now because she is so in love with Basil, he asks the actor to pretend to be in love with her but to do things to make her fall out of love with him. Basil agrees mostly because Henry’s father saved him during the Depression and he owes the family a bit of a favor.
            Basil and his butler Diggs (Eric Blore) leave Joyce behind late at night. They get to Marcia’s house late at night and wake the whole house up playing along trying to get the family and Marcia to hate him. They are both loud and obnoxious but Marcia cannot be more thrilled to see him and backs him up saying that she invited them. The more Basil acts like a jerk the more Marcia defends him. At first he cannot take it but then he starts to fall for her because again she is feeding his ego.
            Diggs calls Joyce to come to the house because Basil is driving him nuts and really falling for Marcia. Basil and Marcia were kissing in the garden when Joyce comes. She sees them and pretends to be his wife. Marcia and the whole situation gets way too much for Basil so he leaves. But when he gets back to his room Marcia is in his bed (fully clothed, this is 1937) and she is thrilled to be there. Thankfully Henry comes in and yells at Basil. Marcia sees how Henry is acting towards Basil and she falls back in love with him. She even gets in on yelling at the actor. The happily back together couple walk out as Basil just goes on and on about a play.
            Joyce comes back and she and Basil make up.
            Olivia de Havilland deserves all the praise because she made this film so funny. From the moment she first comes on screen you have to laugh. She was so freaking adorable she makes your teeth hurt. De Havilland was like a little girl with this big crush (which was the point) and she played the character so perfectly. I love seeing de Havilland in comedies because I am used to seeing her in serious roles that when she is being funny she is great. I think this film just proves what a great actress she was, she was very versatile.
            Leslie Howard annoys me. He was a good actor but he just bothers me for me some reason. Besides Gone with the Wind whatever I have seen him in he always seems so stuck up and too good for the film. But those things being said he was perfect as the conceited actor who likes to ham everything up and have people praising him. Bette Davis to me always seems to be kind of frantic and neurotic in her roles which comes off as annoying but here those qualities worked perfectly. This has to be my favorite film of her's that I have seen. Eric Blore as Diggs is always fun to see in a film he stole a lot of scenes from Leslie Howard. I always love seeing Patric Knowles in a film he was adorable.
            Of course being a Gone with the Wind fan I found it interesting to see Olivia de Havilland and Leslie Howard together two years before their famous pairing. Now I will most likely be laughing a little whenever I see Ashley and Melanie together in GWTW.
            The highlight (and the one that perfectly describes Marcia) of the whole film comes at the end when Marcia yells at Basil for playing on her infatuation with him. It is funnier and better if you see it:

            It’s Love I’m After is hysterical I loved sitting through every moment of it. There are so many great scenes that cannot be explained properly and Olivia de Havilland’s performance so fantastic that you will have to sit through the film to know why I had such a good time. It’s Love I’m After is one of the best comedy films to come out of the 1930s.