Saturday, May 24, 2008

Tonight's Movie: Their Own Desire (1929)

The second half of tonight's Robert Montgomery double bill was THEIR OWN DESIRE, a lively -- if somewhat melodramatic -- romance which runs a fast-paced 65 minutes.

Lally (Norma Shearer) falls in love with dashing Jack (Robert Montgomery), unaware that Jack's mother is the woman who broke up her parents' marriage.

The film is interesting both storywise and as an example of an early sound film depicting the '20s. It starts out on a sad note, detailing the breakup of Lally's parents. The film picks up steam when Lally and Jack meet while spending "a summer on the shores of Lake Michigan," as announced by a title card. (Such cards are a reminder that the Silent Era had just barely ended when this film was made.) The sequence where Jack and Lally meet -- at a beautiful Art Deco pool -- and then attend a shadowy dance is delightful. According to posts at IMDb, the music playing at the dance is called "Blue is the Night"; it's great "mood" music.

The supporting cast includes Lewis Stone and Belle Bennett as Lally's parents. Bennett overacts, but Stone is as polished as in his later films. Helene Millard plays Jack's mother.

Norma Shearer was nominated for Best Actress for this movie, but lost to...herself! She won the Oscar that year for THE DIVORCEE.

Location shooting took place at the Midwick Country Club in Pasadena; based on this 1929 list in Time Magazine which ranks polo players from Midwick, I assume that's where the polo sequence at the start of the movie was filmed. The Midwick no longer exists; the land became a housing tract in Alhambra known as "Midwick." I'd love to know where the pool featured in the film was located.

The movie was directed by E. Mason Hopper, whose work in silents dated back to 1911. The screenplay was by the Oscar-winning Frances Marion. Shearer's gowns were designed by Adrian, who was only in his mid-20s at the time.

THEIR OWN DESIRE is not available on DVD or VHS, but can be seen on Turner Classic Movies. Click here to indicate interest in a DVD release.

You can read a bit more on this film at Classic Ramblings.

Update: Here's Carrie's thoughts on the film at Classic Montgomery.

Update: And here's a post with thoughts by Raquelle at Out of the Past.

Update: This film is now available on a made-to-order DVD-R from the Warner Archive.


Blogger Craig Clarke said...

Because I knew more about it, I chose to watch Strangers May Kiss, the other Montgomery/Shearer film TCM showed that day, first. Now I have this to look forward to, as well.

5:52 AM  
Blogger Carrie said...

I started watching it last night. Lol, being one who lives on the shore of Lake Michigan, there sure aren't any pools like that around here! (must be the other side 0)

2:45 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I wondered if the pool might even be part of the Midwick Country Club, where I believe they filmed the polo would be fun to know!

Carrie, that's fun you live at the film's locale! I'm looking forward to hearing what you and Craig think of the Montgomery-Shearer films.

Best wishes,

3:01 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

A November 2008 postscript, I believe the pool scene was filmed at the Norconian Resort, which was also used in Montgomery's LOVE IN THE ROUGH.


9:58 PM  

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