Saturday, February 14, 2009

Tonight's Movie: Man-Proof (1938)

MAN-PROOF is a good example of a typical glossy MGM romantic comedy-drama from the '30s, starring an attractive quartet of actors: Myrna Loy, Franchot Tone, Rosalind Russell, and Walter Pidgeon. There's nothing particularly special about the film, but I found it diverting and enjoyable.

Mimi (Loy) has been carrying a torch for Alan (Pidgeon), who marries Liz (Russell). Meanwhile Mimi and old family friend Jimmy (Tone) constantly squabble, particularly when it comes to her feelings for Alan. Hmmm, how many guesses where this plot is going?!

The film's tone is mostly light-hearted, with touches of heavier drama thrown in here and there. The actors are all engaging, particularly Tone, for whom I've come to have quite an appreciation. Loy and Pidgeon don't always act admirably, yet they retain the audience's sympathy because...well, they're Myrna Loy and Walter Pidgeon! Russell is touching as the devoted wife who's not sure of her husband's affections.

I was a bit baffled that Ruth Hussey and Rita Johnson were in the film's credits, as I never noticed them in the movie; according to IMDb, their scenes were deleted. (Update: On a second viewing, they can be glimpsed briefly as bridesmaids on either side of Loy, and Johnson has a couple of lines urging the bride to change out of her gown. They're also briefly visible at a party, where Hussey calls out to Loy as she enters.)

The supporting cast includes Nana Bryant (excellent as Loy's no-nonsense romance novelist mother), John Miljan, and Harry Davenport.

Loy wears a particularly dazzling white gown by Dolly Tree partway through the movie, seen in photos accompanying this post. On the other hand, Russell is saddled with wearing one of the strangest wedding dresses in movie history, which seems to have had some sort of medieval inspiration.

The film is MGM class all the way, including cinematography by Karl Freund and a score by Franz Waxman. The screenplay was based on the novel THE FOUR MARYS by Frances Heaslip Lea.

MAN-PROOF is a black and white film which runs 75 minutes. It was directed by Richard Thorpe. Thorpe films previously reviewed here: DOUBLE WEDDING (1937), THREE LOVES HAS NANCY (1938), HAUNTED HONEYMOON (uncredited work in 1940), and THE PRISONER OF ZENDA (1952).

MAN-PROOF is not available on VHS or DVD, but can be seen on Turner Classic Movies.

October 2015 Update: MAN-PROOF is now available on DVD from the Warner Archive. My review of the DVD is here.

6 Comments:

Blogger Barb the Evil Genius said...

I like Myrna Loy from the Thin Man movies. It's the only time I've ever seen her on film. Mr. BTEG is not big on old movies. :)

6:12 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hope you get a chance to see more of her films, Barb. She was in so many good movies, including THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN, and two movies with Cary Grant, THE BACHELOR AND THE BOBBY-SOXER and MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE. Maybe you can check some of them out when Mr. BTEG is otherwise occupied. :) :)

Best wishes,
Laura

8:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...diverting and enjoyable..."

That's just the way to describe this movie. I enjoyed it so!

I believe Ruth Hussey and Rita Johnson may be the two bridesmaids attending Roz as she changes out of that unusual wedding gown. At least, I thought I recognized the voices of Ruth and Rita; I couldn't see their faces very well what with their own extravagant, but lovely, hats. :)

Best,
Carrie

11:09 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I wondered if they could have been bridesmaids, Carrie! I've got to rewind my tape and take another look. :) I'm curious as to what role their characters would have played in the story.

Best wishes,
Laura

11:21 PM  
Blogger Raquelle said...

Thank you!!!!! It's been a few years since I've seen this film, but the ONE THING I remember, is that most hideous wedding gown they put on poor Rosalind Russell. I'm so happy that there is someone else out there that has seen this movie and was equally as horrified.

10:11 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Raquelle, when I first saw that wedding headgear Russell was wearing, I expected the wedding scene was going to be played for laughs! But it was far from it. I don't know how the actors were able to do the scene without dissolving in fits of giggles every time they looked at her.

Best wishes,
Laura

12:12 PM  

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