Friday, August 24, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Design for Scandal (1941)

DESIGN FOR SCANDAL is an amusing, well-paced romantic comedy with some sharp dialogue and an appealing performance by leading lady Rosalind Russell.

Russell plays a quick-witted, Berkeley-educated judge who incurs the wrath of a newspaper publisher (Edward Arnold) when she rules against him in a divorce case. Enter Walter Pidgeon as the newspaper's star photographer, who has a plan -- a design for scandal -- which should end with the judge removed from office and the divorce ruling overturned. That's the plan, anyway. This being a romantic comedy, it's a pretty sure bet things don't go exactly as Pidgeon expects. The film ends with a hilarious courtroom scene which is a screwball comedy delight.

Russell plays a confident and highly intelligent woman who is light years from the addlepated role she played in THE FEMININE TOUCH the very same year. It's a warm, lovely performance. Pidgeon does well in his part, particularly when nonchalantly facing possible death as the movie opens, but with all his character's devious plotting, he's not always especially likeable, especially in his early scenes with Russell. It's Russell's movie all the way, and things lag a bit when she's not on screen.

DESIGN FOR SCANDAL has a large cast of talented actors which also includes Jean Rogers (of FLASH GORDON fame), Lee Bowman, Barbara Jo Allen (radio's "Vera Vague"), Mary Beth Hughes, and Thurston Hall. Guy Kibbee is a riot as a candy-gobbling judge, and his brother Milton Kibbee plays a court clerk. Anne Revere has an uncredited bit part as Russell's hard-nosed maid, half a decade before her Oscar win for NATIONAL VELVET.

DESIGN FOR SCANDAL runs 85 minutes and was filmed in black and white. It was directed by longtime MGM director Norman Taurog.

DESIGN FOR SCANDAL can be seen on TCM. It has not yet been released on DVD or VHS. Vote here to indicate interest in a DVD release.

The trailer can be seen here.

February 2011 Update: This film is now available on DVD-R from the Warner Archive.

4 Comments:

Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

Just saw Walter Pidgeon (not to mention Gene Tierney, Henry Fonda, the always wonderful Charles Laughton and a host of others) in Otto Preminger's Advise and Consent. I had never seen the film, but I love Preminger's style and the cast is incredible so I gave it a whirl. I am also a big Charles Laughton fan! (Here's another great one if you haven't seen it- Witness for the Prosecution).
It was great to see a cast of so many venerable actors, especially Pidgeon, Tone and Laughton in meaty roles. Professionalism, class, talent- too bad not many directors are willing to do something like that and build a cast around older, experienced actors.
I have not yet seen Design for Scandal, despite being a fan of Rosaland Russell! I just have never caught it. This is one reason why I lament the new format war- we need to just put more stuff out on DVD and not recycle stuff on "new" HD stuff. It'll be a bust anyway, the real "new media" will be downloadable content stored on players.
BTW- I hope you guys got your daughter in and all is well at USC. Taking any film classes this semester?

5:28 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi there! I just saw ADVISE AND CONSENT for the first time about year ago and enjoyed it very much. Great cast. :) I've heard a little of Drew Casper's commentary but need to get back to it!

Thanks for the good wishes, it was a hectic week -- along with college shopping/packing/moving, my work has been extremely busy -- but daughter is now all settled in at USC. She does indeed have a film class this semester -- with Dr. Casper -- and should have the opportunity to interact with him a couple times outside class as well. She has quite an electic course load this semester between two science courses, film, and history!

USC is marking the 50th anniversary of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's death with some screenings this fall; I hope to attend THE CONSTANT NYMPH in October, hosted by USCs Jon Burlingame (Alfred Newman/movie composer expert) who has done some excellent DVD commentaries such as LOVE IS A MANY-SPLENDORED THING.

I completely agree about the new format(s) -- more and more reissues of "old" stuff for new formats is a bummer...we've been very fortunate so far with "old" movie releases on regular DVD, and I hope they will keep 'em coming! There are so many fun things they could release -- such as a Rosalind Russell set! I really enjoyed DESIGN FOR SCANDAL. There were some priceless bits of comedy with Guy Kibbee and Lee Bowman in the final sequence.

Hope to catch up with the recording of your radio show later in the weekend! I've been gone or working midday Saturday the last 3 weekends in a row, argh!

TTYS,
Laura

8:07 PM  
Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

A Rosalind Russell Signature Collection would be a great box set!
Good to hear your daughter is in Dr. Casper's class. His commentaries are always great. I learn quite a bit- they are almost like a class on DVD. She's lucky to be able to be there. I would love to be nearby myself, even just to see the screenings of films like you've mentioned. We've got no where like that around here. We've got one independant theater that shows foreign and independant films, especially if they are lefty films. Everything else is a chain. Which is another reason why DVDs are important. I can build my own collection.
About the show- we will hopefully have a timeslot change soon and a better one at that. We'll post when that happens. Thanks for listening.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

"A Rosalind Russell Signature Collection would be a great box set!"

And the first title chosen for the set should be MY SISTER EILEEN...it doesn't appear to have ever been released on video, how is that possible?

Sometimes of late I feel frustrated about life in So. CA, but it does have its advantages. I've been very fortunate to attend many wonderful film events and screenings over the years.

Good luck on the new time slot!

Laura :)

10:49 PM  

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