Saturday, June 06, 2009

Tonight's Movie: Cafe Metropole (1937)

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive..."

This line certainly fits the complicated plotline of the very amusing CAFE METROPOLE, which stars Tyrone Power as a Princeton man forced to impersonate a Russian prince, Loretta Young as an American heiress, and Adolphe Menjou as an embezzling restaurateur.

It's impossible to concisely explain more without giving away too much of the movie, but suffice it to say that the film takes fans of classic romantic comedy on a great ride. The film has the added plus of two impossibly gorgeous leads, and Loretta in particular makes the most of her well-written role.

The script moves along at a sprightly pace and doesn't waste viewers' time with the kinds of romantic misunderstandings which would be all too easy to fall back on in a film of this type. The film feels quite original and is fun from start to finish.

The excellent supporting cast includes Charles Winninger as Loretta's father and Helen Westley, who has a ball as her maiden aunt. Leonid Kinskey turns up for a scene as a restaurant artist.

CAFE METROPOLE is one of five films costarring Power and Young, all released between 1936 and 1938. The other films are LADIES IN LOVE (1936), LOVE IS NEWS (1937), SECOND HONEYMOON (1937), and SUEZ (1938). Reviews of LOVE IS NEWS and SECOND HONEYMOON can be found at the end of this post.

The film was directed by Edward H. Griffith, and Jacques Deval's witty screenplay is based on a story by actor-director Gregory Ratoff, who also plays Paul.

The movie was shot in black and white and runs 83 minutes. It has excellent production values; the title set is beautifully designed, and Young's gowns by Royer are exceptionally lovely.

CAFE METROPOLE is available on DVD as part of the Tyrone Power Matinee Idol Collection. Extras include production stills and two deleted scenes with dances by Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. The first dance in particular is outstanding, but it's easy to understand why the scenes were cut, as they don't do anything to advance the storyline. It's terrific that they have been preserved and can now be shared with the public.

Reviews of other films in this boxed DVD set: GIRLS' DORMITORY (1936), LOVE IS NEWS (1937), SECOND HONEYMOON (1937), DAY-TIME WIFE (1939), THAT WONDERFUL URGE (1948), THE LUCK OF THE IRISH (1948), and I'LL NEVER FORGET YOU (1951).

I only have two films left to watch in this set and have enjoyed each and every title; CAFE METROPOLE is no exception. Highly recommended for fans of Power, Young, and '30s romantic comedies.

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