Saturday, February 26, 2011


“All men must choose between two paths. Good is the path of honor, friends and family. Evil... well, it's just cooler”

            Megamind is one of the best animated, what to call it… action movie? Super hero movie? Comedy movie? Well is it all four genres with a little twist.
            Will Ferrell excellently plays the “evil” Megamind bent on destroying Metro City and its superhero Metroman. When he finally gets rid of Metroman once and for all he takes over the city. A while later he becomes board having no one to fight with so he decides to create a new super hero called Tighten. Only things do not go over so smoothly for the new hero so with the help of feisty and sassy TV reporter Roxanne Ritchie Megamind changes sides and helps to rid the city of Tighten.
            This was a really great spin on super hero movies. I enjoyed Megamind from beginning to end. Will Ferrell always goes a bit over the top in his movies but it worked here very well. Megamind likes to be a bad guy who makes very theatrical introductions and is very dramatic. Tina Fey is as always nothing short of a snarky, sarcastic, biting genius when it comes to comedy and was utterly perfect as Roxanne. She had so many lines that I could picture Liz Lemmon saying on 30 Rock haha. David Cross always has be laughing in whatever he happens to be in. He was the voice of Megamind’s assistant Minion who is part fish part gorilla and part robot. Jonah Hill as usual plays the awkward nerd Hal who turns into Tighten. Hal has a massive crush on Roxanne and thinks that by becoming a super hero she will like him but nothing in life goes exactly as planned even in animated movies. Brad Pit… who wouldn’t want to see him as a super hero even if it was just his voice.
            Megamind is a really entertaining and very different super hero story. I liked the twist and turns the story threw. Megamind is a character that you root for and cannot help but love. This movie will keep you hooked and happy and hoping more movies- not just animated- come out this in the future.

Murder on the Orient Express

“The murderer is with us now!”

            Murder on the Orient Express is one of the quintessential mystery stories ever written… of course it is the story was written by the great mystery writer of all time Agatha Christie. Christie excellently takes her main mystery and motive from the Lindberg Baby kidnapping and weaves the sad story into the lives of her characters. The story takes place on board the famous Orient Express traveling from Turkey (on the European side) to London. Famous detective Hercule Poirot is traveling back to Belgium on the train on the insistence of his friend Mr. Bianchi. One night the train gets caught behind a large pile of snow on the tracks. The next morning the body of a passenger named Ratchett is found in his room dead from multiple stab wounds. There seems to be no motive behind the killing. No one on the train knows each other… or do they? What possible motive would strangers have for killing this man?
            Such a great plot for a murder mystery book which was made into an even better murder mystery movie. No writer in Hollywood today could come up with a better story for a movie. From the moment the train pulls out of the station you get this great thrill of excitement as if you were on the train traveling across 1930s Europe yourself.
            Another great thrill is watching the amazing cast. This is like a movie dream team. The reason I bought this movie was for Ingrid Bergman around the time I started to become interested in classic film. This was actually my first Lauren Bacall movie I had never seen her in anything before although I knew who she was. Seeing a young Michael York aka “Basil Expedition” from Austin Powers was a bit strange at first but now I can only picture him as the Hungarian Count Andrenyi. Anthony Perkins plays McQueen who is oddly in a way a less psychotic more neurotic version of Norman Bates. Sean Connery was the biggest name at the time and the lure to get the other big names signed on for the movie. He plays Colonel Arbuthnot a former Colonel for the Scots Army. Vanessa Redgrave is the beautiful Miss. Debenham in love with Arbuthnot. And let’s not forget Albert Finney who brings great life to the main character Hercule Poirot.

Murder on the Orient Express
Murder on the Orient Express
Murder on the Orient Express

            Everyone in the cast brought great life to their characters. I read the book after having watched the movie and the whole time I was thinking about the actors in their parts and all of them fit so well. Reading the book you can just imagine Albert Finney as Poirot with his slicked hair and funny voice. Ingrid Bergman and Lauren Bacall were hysterical in their roles they make this movie so enjoyable to me. Bergman plays the timid Swedish missionary Greta. She has some of the funniest lines in the movie, they’re not supposed to be funny but the way she says them with her real Swedish accent have me laughing before she even starts talking. Bergman won an Academy Award (and the only Award of several the movie was up for) for this part and she deserved it. Her facial expressions are almost like an instinct or real like she was not acting at all. Lauren Bacall is the obnoxious American Mrs. Hubbard who constantly talks and very loudly. Even in her fifties Bacall was still a beautiful lady (even now currently in her eighties) with a great bite. She was perfect for the role of Mrs. Hubbard. I find it rather a great coincidence that both Bergman and Bacall made their greatest films in Hollywood’s Golden Age with Humphrey Bogart.

            Murder on the Orient Express is a movie I can watch over and over again and never be tired of. It is one of the movies that was made and put together so wonderfully. Watching Murder on the Orient Express always makes me wish movies like this could be made today one that had some of the top best actors and actresses of today with a story that is as great as they are. The movie remains very faithful to the book and is the only film adaptation of her books which Agatha Christie was liked very much.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

“My dear, since Eve picked the apple, no woman has ever been taken entirely unawares.”

            The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is a love story but not your typical love story. Yes, like all happy gooey romantic films the two main characters do wind up together in the end. But there is one obstacle that keeps Lucy Muir and Captain Gregg apart- he’s a ghost!
            Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) is a young widowed woman with a free spirit personality which is uncommon in the early 1900s. After the death of her husband the previous year she wants to move away from her in-laws in a stuffy home in London to the sea with her daughter.
            She takes her daughter Anna and her maid Martha to a small seaside town called Whitecliff. Lucy goes to a realtor named Mr. Coomb. He sits with her picking out houses she can afford. One house he dismisses and Lucy sees this so she takes a look at the paper herself. She sees that the house is perfect for her and demands that Mr. Coomb takes her there.
            The realtor is skittish when they pull up to the house. He tries everything he can to persuade Lucy not to buy it but she loves the house as soon as she sees it. Once inside her love for the home grows. The master bedroom has a wonderful window with a telescope facing the sea. All the sudden an evil sounding disembodied laugh can be heard. Mr. Coomb is so frightened he shuts the door with Lucy in the room and runs out the front door. Once outside the realtor tells Lucy that the house is haunted. This makes Lucy only want the house even more.
            A few days later, Lucy comes face to face with the ghost of Captain Gregg. He does not frighten Lucy, she just has to get used to him and him being a ghost. Both human and ghost are just as stubborn as the other. Gregg wants Lucy out of the house  like he has wanted so many other before and she desperately wants to stay in the house she has fallen in love with it. Gregg see that Lucy’s feelings for his home are genuine and he allows her to stay as long as his portrait from the living room can be hung in her room and she allows him to stick around as along he does not bother Anna since she is young.
            Lucy and Gregg become fond of each other. She loves hearing about how he lived such an adventurous life. He likes how innocent and kind she is. One day her in laws make a surprise visit. The sister-in law still thinks she’s a fool for moving to the seaside and the mother- in law is still a weepy pain. They tell her her husbands money has run out she now has nothing to live that now she should give up the house and move back with them.  On top of everything Gregg is still around and he keeps talking to Lucy and she talks backs making it look like she is talking to herself. Her in laws think she is cracking up talking to herself. Gregg tells Lucy to tell them to “shove off” and she does. Gregg then nicely escorts them out the front door.
            With no money left Lucy falls behind with the rent. Gregg says he can help he suggests that she writes a book about his life with him dictating. For a few weeks ghost and human work day and night on Blood and Swash. When the book is done Lucy takes the manuscript to publishers in London. There she meets children’s author Miles Fairley. At first she is repelled by his charm but after a while she falls for him.
            Gregg can see that Lucy is in love with Fairley. He feels he is holding her back from finding real love. At night when Lucy is sleeping he tells her the whole year had been a dream he was never there she was the one who wrote the book and came up with the story. With these parting words he leaves Lucy.

            Lucy has fallen head over heels in love with Fairley. She falls down harder that she wanted when she finds out Fairley is not the man she thought he was.
            I love this film. I have nothing awful to say about it. Gene Tierney was wonderful as Lucy Muir she was perfect. She was not playing a femme fatale or a gorgeous longing woman she was a widow who wanted to live, she wanted excitement in her life. Tierney excellently banters and matches wit with Rex Harrison as Captain Gregg. Never for one moment does she lose that spark of independence, yes she has a moment of weakness when it came to Fairley but other than that she was capable of getting by on her own. Tierney makes Lucy Muir warm and personable.
            Rex Harrison was also prefect in his role as Captain Gregg. The kind of evil laugh he did to scare people was so good it actually does give you shivers. You can really believe Harrison could have been an old cranky sea captain in real life.
            George Sanders in the films I have seen in him just has a knack for playing the slimy guys who are never up to any good. But I must say I probably would have fallen in love with him if I were Lucy, he was such a good smooth talker and that accent with that voice (ok that was weird but hey he was a guy with an English accent what can I say accents make everything sound nice).
            Bernard Herrmann the genius composer behind the Psycho score wrote the score for this film. Herrmann said that this was his favorite film score he had ever made. The score is so beautiful and emotional. You can almost feel the emotion of the music moving you and the emotions of the characters and the sea.
            The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is a great love story. It is a different kind of love story that will keep your attention and adoration. The ending is so beautiful; it is the only ending that every time I see I still blub like a baby. This is a film that will leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside and so happy and pleased to have watched.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Free Soul (1931)

A Free Soul is a Pre-Code film made in 1931. Norma Shearer plays Jan Ashe a girl who has been given much freedom by her lawyer father Stephan Ashe (Lionel Barrymore). Father and daughter are both very much alike in their free thinking, broadminded ways except they cannot help each other with their individual problems: Jan is emotionally unstable and Stephan is an out of control alcoholic.
            Stephan is defending a gangster Ace Wilfong (Clark Gable) who is on trial for murder. Before the trial Jan comes to see her father and  meets Ace. She is immediately taken with the gangster. After Jan walks out Stephan has his partners turn around so they do not see him drinking before the trial.

             Ace is acquitted of the murder so Stephan takes him to his mother’s house for her birthday. Jan is at the house along with her fiancé Dwight (Leslie Howard). Dwight has asked Jan to marry him seventy-three times and now she has finally agreed. Stephan and Ace arrive after dinner with the lawyer stumbling in drunk. The family is ashamed of him for not only being a drunk but for bring a shady character into the house.

            Jan offers to take Ace home. On the way back to his place, they are shot at by a gang of Ace’s enemy’s. At his place Jan falls madly in love with the gangster and spends the night with him. After this night Jan has fallen completely head over heels in love with Ace. She breaks off her engagement to Dwight who she never really loved. Jan goes to Ace whenever she feels the need.
            After a while, Jan starts to see her relationship with Ace is not healthy and that her father is falling off the wagon with his drinking. She promises her father that if he can quit drinking she will quit seeing Ace. For a few months father and daughter retreat to the mountains. The last day of the trip Stephan gets drunk and is not seen for a long time. Jan, still addicted to Ace, sees him and he is very angry with her for just leaving and then coming back to him like nothing at all.
            Ace does not leave Jan alone. Dwight visits Jan and he sees what Ace is doing to her. Trying to be a good man and win the woman he loves back Dwight goes to threaten Ace and he shoots the gangster.
            This film was a bit scandalous when it came out. Norma Shearer came off as incredibly sexy and almost did things like a man would with a woman. Jan only saw Ace and was seductive to get his attention when she wanted. The character slept with someone who was not with her husband. As I mentioned with The Divorcee Shearer felt a bit sexually repressed in her personal life and just really let her sexuality out in her films. Here you can clearly see her dormant need to be sexual come across the screen and she was perfect. Shearer clearly shows why she was “Queen of the Lot” at MGM during the 1930s. To me many of Shearer's best scenes of her career come from A Free Soul. She exudes a sexy confidence that is not over the top or under played, she truly looked like a woman who knew what she wanted and was unapologetic.
            Depictions of a woman being seductive would in 1934 become morally wrong to show on screen. Usually if a woman was “seductive” in a film she was no good and corrupt.
             A scene I found to be excellently filmed was when Jan goes to visit Dwight in jail. The bar of the cell door blocks their mouths so only their eyes are shown. Shearer and Howard were fantastic in this scene they basically just had to act with their eyes. So much can be seen and told just by their eyes. They both look so sad and guilty.
            Lionel Barrymore was excellent as Stephan Ashe. He did so well as a man who loved his daughter and wanted to change but alcohol just got the better of him. The ending courtroom scene when Stephan gives his speech is considered one of Barrymore’s best moments of his career and one of the best scenes shown in a film. It truly is a great scene and a great piece of acting.
            A Free Soul is such a great film. The story of addiction and want shared by both a father and daughter is so interesting. Today the story would be like watching a really bad soap opera but, again, as with most classic films they need to be watched in context to understand why they were truly amazing and sometimes shocking.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Libleled Lady (1936)

“She may be his wife, but she's engaged to me!”

In my mind there is no reason why a comedy movie of any kind should be complicated to follow. I mean, come on, comedy movies are supposed to make us laugh and sometimes not think too hard about the plot or the jokes. Watching Libeled Lady I found the plot a little difficult to follow and at times pretty boring. I felt it could have ended sooner rather than later with the plot being alright at the beginning and then dragging by the end.
            Spencer Tracy’s Warren Haggerty works for a newspaper who often runs stories about celebrities and socialites which more than not makes those celebrities and socialites upset. On the day Warren is supposed to be finally marrying his fiancé after many other times he gets a call to come to the office to clean up a new mess; socialite Connie Allenbury (Myrna Loy) plans to file a lawsuit for libel after the paper accidentally ran a story calling her a home wrecker. The paper brings in one of their former reporters and lady’s man Bill Chandler (William Powell) to help try to smooth things over with Connie.
            Gladys (Jean Harlow), Warren’s fiancé storms into the office very upset and angry with Warren. The reporter gets a good idea, he has Gladys marry Bill and then Bill is to try to seduce Connie and have the “wife” walk in on them which in turn would truly make Connie a home wrecker leaving no room for a libel suit.

            From this arrangement problems arise such as Gladys really falling in love with Bill because Warren never seems to notice her and Bill and Connie really falling in love with each other.
            There are some very good comedic moments in the film one provided excellently by William Powell. Bill goes fishing with Connie and her father but before that he had no idea how to fish. He has a professional come and teach him how the day before the trip. Once on the river he gets into the water and completely falls in going after a fish! The whole scene is really funny; Powell did some excellent physical comedy.
            The acting was very well done by Powell, Myrna Loy, and Tracy. Tracy was the tough guy which he would play countless of times in his other films. Of course I adored Powell and Loy together; this was a film for them since they were so popular with the Thin Man films. Jean Harlow I had never seen before in a film and I have to say I was not impressed by her at all. I found her acting to be really annoying and by the end of the film I could not take her voice anymore. Even though I was not impressed by Harlow I am still willing to see some of her other films (I know there is possibly a reason for her being on AFI’s top 25 actresses of all times list)

            When the film was over I was left with the feeling that I really wanted to like it because of the great cast but all I could do was find it to be alright. I find that with some screwball comedies from the 1930s that they start off strong and really good and then just do not know how to end. The ending to this film was not good it was as if the writers were trying to come up with an unpredictable ending but they just made one that did not end and there was no resolution.
Libeled Lady is not a completely bad film that should be avoided. It was up for an Academy Award and actually lost to another Powell and Loy outing The Great Ziegfeld. The comedy is excellent there are lines in the script that really stand out and are delivered perfectly by the cast:
“What’ll we use for a headline”
“I don’t care. Anything, ‘War threatens Europe’”
“Which country?”
“Flip a nickel.”

Gladys says to a driver:
“Can’t you go any faster?”
“I can, but the cab can’t”

 Libeled Lady does have its faults especially with the ending and its tiny bit of plot confusion but this is a classic comedy film that should be seen.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Witches of Eastwick

“Who are you?”
“Just your average, horny little devil.”

            The Witches of Eastwick tells the story of three lonely and sexually repressed women whose husbands have left them. The three friends- Alex, Sukie, and Jane one night talk about what they would want in their perfect man. The next day a mysterious man buys a historic mansion. No one can remember his name and no one knows what he does. Eventually Alex, Sukie, and Jane come to know the new mysterious man named Daryl Van Horne very personally. He releases their repressed emotions and sexuality. The whole town is talking about them and Daryl and not in a good way. Eventually Daryl begins to become possessive of the three women and causes them great distress. Alex, Sukie, and Jane know that Daryl is evil, he is the devil and he must be gotten rid of for the sake of their lives.
            If you ever paid attention in an American History class you should have read or at least have heard about the Salem Witch Trials. This movie takes place in the fictional town of Eastwick in New England. So no surprise that John Updike, the author behind the book the movie is based on set his book in that particular region of the United States.
            This movie has a lot of good comedic moments and there are some moments that are very over the top and way too much. The cast was pretty well; Cher plays Alex the town sculptress, Susan Sarandon plays Jane a cellist and the school band teacher, and Michelle Pfeiffer as Sukie a newspaper writer with a lot of kids. Jack Nicholson is perfect as the creepy and vile Daryl Van Horne. The one person who steals the whole movie and practically makes it worth watching is Veronica Cartwright as the local Christian moral checker Felicia Alden. Cartwright’s scenes get so intense they are almost uncomfortable to watch (whenever I watch this it is odd to think she was the little girl in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds ). I found Pfeiffer to be the weakest of the cast, don’t get me wrong she is a very good actress but compared to Sarandon and Cher’s characters she just did not fit. I understand Sukie was the kind of innocent one out the three women but I found it a bit unbelievable that someone like Daryl would go for her, then again she is damaged and vulnerable and will listen to anything.
            The script is a bit weak and without all these actors do not think this movie would have turned out as well as it did. The first half of the movie is really good the story is very entertaining but it seems like once the women wanted to get rid of Daryl the story went downhill and becomes a bit boring and a bit too much. Nicholson starts to really get on my nerves with his over the top acting.
            The Witches of Eastwick is an enjoyable movie to watch. It is an interesting mix of comedy and disturbance.

Friday, February 18, 2011


“And what was your role in all this?”

I think everyone who has ever played the game Clue knows how Clue the movie turns out. If you ever wondered what Clue the game would be like if it were played out as a comedy that is what the movie is. Every character was cast perfectly especially Wadsworth the Butler played by Tim Curry and Mrs. White played by Madeline Kahn. Every character is also very funny.  The comedy is almost like watching slapstick at times.
            Tim Curry played Wadsworth with such brilliantly dry humor even when he had to get excited. He has that look of psychotic evil (weird way to put it but that is as best I could come up with) that just makes you laugh whenever he starts talking. Madeline Kahn can seriously never do any wrong when it comes to comedy. Mrs. White was very serious but Kahn manages to either make a face or say something so subtly that just makes you howl with laughter. Her comedy is very restrained as fits the character but with her moments of “outburst” her great comedic timing comes out. Two times Kahn adlibs her lines and they come out to be some of the best lines of the movie.
            The rest of the cast is very good. Seeing a young Michael McKean as Mr. Green is always fun to watch he has such a great dry sense of humor as well, he was very smooth and still is. I remember seeing Martin Mull first when he was in Sabrina the Teenage Witch as Mr. Poole and he never changed even to this day.
            The script is not a strong script there are many scenes and lines that were not funny or just too winded. The cast was able to make the script witty and entertaining. The setting of the movie is after World War II. The blackmail towards the characters deals with each one of them being either involved in a death or having ties to Communism or in Colonel Mustard’s case profiteering off the War. This angle added much to the story and made it more interesting.  
            Since the board game can have random results the ending of the movie has three random endings.  One of the endings is pretty weak but the other two are very good. Madeline Kahn has one of her best movie scenes in one of the endings.
            Clue is a very funny and very entertaining movie to watch. This is a type of comedy that we unfortunately do not see any longer since everything has to be in our face and not let us think. Every time I watch Clue I always find something to laugh about that makes me love the movie all the more.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

History of the World: Part 1

“Oh, you are nuts. N-V-T-S, nuts!”

Mel Brooks is the undisputed master of spoof movies. The man just knew how to make excellent comedy. History of the World Pt.1 clearly shows how the man is a true master of comedy. Brooks wrote, produced, directed, and played five different parts in this movie. He takes us through history from the dawn of early man to the cavemen and Vikings, through the Roman Empire to the Inquisition right to the French Revolution.
            My favorite parts of the movie are the Roman Empire and the French Revolution. But before these there are two good scenes. One scene is in the cavemen sequence. Orson Welles narrates the beginning and in the cavemen sequence he says “And of course, with the birth of the artist came the inevitable afterbirth… the critic” and a caveman comes and pees in the wall painting haha. I am currently an Art History major and I love that joke because who is to say what is art and what is not. The other scene is Mel Brooks as Moses and God handing him the Commandments. Brooks comes out as Moses and says “The Lord, the Lord Jehovah has given unto you these fifteen... [drops a tablet] Oy! Ten! Ten Commandments for all to obey!”
            The Roman Empire part is hilarious it contains some of my most favorite movies scenes. There are little jokes here and there like in all of Brooks’ movies to listen for and a lot of them are completely hysterical. The reason I find these part so funny is because of Madeline Kahn as the Empress Nympho. I cry laughing at the scene when she is being taken around town on her bed and she tells the soldiers carrying her “Could you please step on the same foot at the same time! My tits are falling off!” haha. Her character is looking for love and she saves Josephus a black slave excellently played by Gregory Hines. I also cry laughing with the scene when Empress Nympho has to pick a date for the midnight orgy and has the soldiers do a quick time march! Dom DeLuise is a panic as Emperor Nero especially when he pulls things out of his rear end and says “Wash this!” There are so many great scenes in the Roman Empire part that will have you rolling on the floor laughing.

            The French Revolution part is so wrong yet so good in so many ways. Harvey Korman plays Count de Monet and is constantly telling people that his name is not “count de money.” Mel Brooks as King Louis XVI proclaims “It’s good to be the King” whenever he comes across a pretty lady. Cloris Leachman is so hysterical (what I find so funny about her as an actress is she started out as a serious actress and over her many years of acting just became a comedic actress. She was in an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and I could not believe it was her acting in a serious role!). She plays an old French lady leading a group of rebellious people named Madame Defarge. She says “We are so poor we don’t even have our own language just this stupid accent” and someone in the crowd says “We all sound like Maurice Chevailer.”

            There are so many things in History of the World that only Mel Brooks can get away with such as singing about The Inquisition and executing Jews while he is a Jew himself. No one has ever been able to make a half as decent a spoof movie as Mel Brooks made. Today we have those God awful spoof movies like Meet the Spartans or Epic Movie or Vampires Suck. Those come nowhere near as being spoof movies in any sense they are just annoying. What Brooks does is he takes some points of history or westerns (Blazzing Saddles) or movies (High Anxiety, Young Frankenstein) and respectfully makes them funny. His subtle humor is the best and it’s a shame that no one today wants to see that humor, nowadays is just thrown in our face. Like all of Brooks’ movies, History of the World Pt. 1 is smart and hilarious without going over the top.
            It should be warned that Brooks is what I like to call an equal opportunity offender. But then again if you did not have a sense of humor you would not be watching anything Mel Brooks.

The Divorcee (1930)
“All men are fair game from now on!”

The Divorcee, made in 1930 when sound was still new and the studios were still trying to find what worked with the new technology, was very risqué for its time. The film is Pre-Code so there is a biting sense of realism and daring which made it risqué. The plot addresses how men and women deal with sexuality and the double standards that arise.
            On a retreat to the country, Ted asks Jerry (Norma Shearer) to marry him and she happily agrees. Paul has loved Jerry for a long time and he is heartbroken over the engagement. He gets drunk and that night gets into an accident which seriously disfigures a girl named Dorothy. Ted and Jerry marry and Paul marries Dorothy.

            The night of their third anniversary, their friend Don stops by with a group of their other friends. One lady happens to know Ted all too well. Ted and the woman go into the kitchen to talk when Jerry walks in on them hugging. Jerry is angry with Ted and later that night she cannot bear to be left in her apartment alone so she has Don take her out. Longing looks and loving touches are exchanged and eventually lead to a one night stand.

            When Ted comes back Jerry tells him she " balanced their books.” Ted is none too happy with Jerry but she cannot understand why it is ok for him to go out with someone on the side for as long as he did and she only had a one night stand. He said that what he did “was not the same.” The couple decides to divorce.
            Jerry has a fabulous time with her new found freedom. She goes to parties and sees random men. One man she comes across after many years is Paul. He still married to Dorothy but unhappily; she never lets him forget what he did to her face. He says they are most unhappy because his wife knows he is still in love with Jerry. He tells her that he will get a divorce and she can come live with him in Japan where he has been sent to work. Jerry agrees to this but not everything goes to plan. Dorothy comes to tell them how much she still loves Paul which shows how much she is willing to fight for him and how much she loves him. Jerry realizes that she never fought to stay with Ted she just let her marriage fall apart. Ted has been living in Paris and she goes to find him and make things right.

            Today the plot of divorce and spouses/couples cheating on each other is nothing new but back in the 1930s this was a subject that had never been portrayed in films. When The Divorcee was released it was extremely controversial.
            Norma Shearer up to this point had always played a proper lady and she was very eager to play something else. She was “Queen of the Lot” at MGM mostly because she was married to Irving Thalberg who was head producer at the studio and gave her all the good roles. Everyone at MGM was skeptical they did not think she had enough sex appeal but Shearer was sure she could handle the part so she had the famous photographer George Hurrell shoot some “racy” photos of her. Well they must have gotten some pulses racing and tales wagging because she got the part. I recently read about Norma Shearer and she felt repressed sexually and in many of her films where her character had to be seductive she was able to express her sexuality (the book I read was very good it was written by Gavin Lambert).

         I liked the performances in this film. Norma Shearer would win her only Academy Award for her role as Jerry. She was good but I still have to wonder who she was up against for her to have won. I guess she won more for her characters content and let’s face it acting for sound and acting for the screen itself was still being perfected. There’s something about Shearer that is attracting, she was not very pretty but for some reason I think she had a very nice face and her sexy stares were quite sexy. A very young Robert Montgomery plays Don with whom Jerry as her affair with. He provided a bit of the comic relief. Jerry never told Ted who she had her one night stand with so Don got nervous when she said she was going to tell Ted about their night together. Montgomery played a pretty sly guy but when Jerry said she was going to tell her husband about their night he told his butler to get him on a boat going anywhere. He played that scene very well with the perfect touch of comedy.
            I also liked the Art Deco sets. Art Deco is one of my favorite art movements to study. The style would show up repeatedly and very popularly on film sets and clothing throughout the 1930s (in the Astaire/Rogers films just about all their lavish sets are Art Deco).
            The Divorcee is a film to watch if you are interested in the history of cinema in America and of Pre-Code films. The film has largely gone unwatched for many years because it is out of style and Norma Shearer has unfortunately faced the same fate as the film. If you can watch The Divorcee in context of the time period you will be able to see it as scandalous and risqué and enjoy it.