Thursday, January 9, 2014

Don't defend me, Diggs! After all, what am I? Just the greatest actor in the world.

Hey! Look at this! Two weeks in a row! I’m really hoping I can keep this up all year. Today, we’re continuing the New Year’s theme (it’s still a New Year, isn’t it?) with a rather obscure film. I stumbled on this movie quite by accident a year or so ago. I actually already wrote a post on it – but who says I can only write one post per movie? No one, that’s who. New Year’s is only a small scene in this movie but it actually has a lot of bearing on the plot. Due to one mildly sincere New Year’s resolution, the main character embarks on a misguided attempt to be a better person –and fails to humorous effect. The movie is:

from Doctor Macro

It’s Love I’m After (1937)
Warner Bros.
Director: Archie Mayo
Featuring: Leslie Howard, Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Patric Knowles, Eric Blore

Plot in a nutshell:

Sparring lovebirds Basil (Howard) and Joyce (Davis) have as dramatic a relationship offstage as they do onstage. When Joyce announces on New Year’s Eve that she is leaving Basil once and for all, Basil resolves to be a better man in the following year. And when young Henry Grant (Knowles) begs Basil to persuade Henry’s fiancée, Marcia West (de Havilland) to fall out of love with the renowned actor, Basil accepts in a misguided spirit of goodwill. But when Joyce returns to the scene to find Marcia not quite out of love with Basil and Basil not working quite so hard as he’d hoped, things even more topsy-turvy.

Trivia: There’s not a ton about this movie in terms of trivia.

(Wiki) Leslie Howard originally envisioned either Gerturde Lawrence or Ina Clair, both noted for their comedic stage performances, as his leading lady, although they had limited experience in films. Producer Hal B. Wallis had director Archie Mayo meet with Lawrence, who was interested in playing the role, but when Wallis and Howard screened the 1936 British film Men Are Not Gods, they agreed she did not photograph well. The film began production without a leading lady. Then Wallis decided the screwball comedy would be a refreshing change-of-pace for Bette Davis, who had just completed the melodrama That Certain Woman. She initially declined the role of Joyce Arden, feeling the better female role was that of socialite Marcia West. She also resented being asked to accept second billing to Howard.

My thoughts on the film:

I love this movie! I think it’s funny, silly, and surprising. I watched it with my sister once and she pointed out that Leslie Howard was a peculiar choice for an irresistible heartthrob. It’s true that he isn’t the hunkiest actor around – Clark Gable or Errol Flynn would have both been a little more believable. But, I love Leslie Howard. I think he’s very attractive and I love the intensity he pours into his roles. And he’s simply hilarious in his film. As an over-the-top, self-absorbed, philandering ham he is perfect.

Favorite scenes:

I think my favorite scene in the movie is one towards the beginning where Basil and his valet, Digges (Eric Blore), tally up Basil’s “score” for the total year (points added for various charitable works and points deducted for various dalliances). The two actors are very enjoyable together and I love their banter throughout the film. Unfortunately, it’s pretty hard to find clips of the movie. I discovered the entire movie on YouTube and if you can find it, it’s well worth the watch. It’s worth buying, frankly, in my opinion, if you can’t find it online.

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