Monday, June 02, 2008

Tonight's Movie: Another Language (1933)

Victor Hallam (Robert Montgomery) and his bride Stella (Helen Hayes) elope and enjoy a blissfully happy honeymoon, but their happiness is tempered when Stella meets Victor's, er, challenging family. Three years pass, and family relations grow ever more difficult as Stella realizes the Hallams speak ANOTHER LANGUAGE.

This film was both engrossing and frustrating. It was never dull, but I quickly found myself wishing I could shake some sense -- or good manners -- into Victor's relatives, especially his manipulative, mean mother (Louise Closser Hale). For that matter, one's hard-pressed to feel much sympathy for Victor, who inexplicably turns from the dashing bridegroom of the film's opening to a mama's boy who places his mother's feelings over those of his wife. One wishes he would have come to his senses a little sooner. The ending felt a bit rushed.

The screenplay was by Herman J. Mankiewicz and Donald Ogden Stewart, based on a play by Rose Franken, author of CLAUDIA. The film reminded me quite a bit of a later story of another whirlwind marriage and difficult in-laws, 1944's THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU, with Dennis Morgan and Eleanor Parker. Henry Travers plays almost the same role in both films, as the kindly but ineffectual father who quietly puts up with the bad behavior of some of his family, especially his wife.

Margaret Hamilton is perhaps the most interesting of Victor's relatives; she plays a more fully rounded character. Hamilton made her debut in this film, recreating her stage role. John Beal likewise made his film debut recreating his part from the stage. Both Hamilton and Beal would act on screen for decades more.

ANOTHER LANGUAGE was directed by Edward H. Griffith. It runs 77 minutes.

ANOTHER LANGUAGE is not available on VHS or DVD, but it can be seen on Turner Classic Movies. The trailer can be seen here. (Update: ANOTHER LANGUAGE is now available on DVD from the Warner Archive.)

For Montgomery fans, Classic Images has a biographical profile of the actor available to read online.

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