Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tonight's Movie: I Live My Life (1935) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

I LIVE MY LIFE (1935) is a pleasant romantic comedy starring Joan Crawford and Brian Aherne, available from the Warner Archive.

Crawford plays Kay Bentley, a spoiled rich girl sailing with her father (Frank Morgan) and a retinue of friends and servants off a Greek island. When Kay goes ashore she meets archaeologist Terry O'Neill (Brian Aherne); she's terribly attracted to him, but doesn't disclose her true identity, as Terry has made it clear he's not interested in the types of people who travel by yacht.

Terry wants to marry Kay and eventually follows her to New York, only to learn she's not a secretary named Ann Morrison. Terry and Kay realize they are madly in love but first must work past her flightiness, her fiance (Fred Keating), her father's debt crisis, her dragon of a rich grandmother (Jessie Ralph) -- and his loathing of office jobs. Can Kay be happy following her husband to dig sites around the world?

I LIFE MY LIFE is an enjoyable film, though at 97 minutes it's definitely too long waiting for Crawford and Aherne to finally make up their minds to marry. It's not what I'd call a lighter-than-air comedy -- Crawford riding a mule at the outset is a case study in trying too hard to be funny -- but despite some flaws the movie has a number of good things in it and held my interest. The journey is made especially worthwhile by the cast -- and if a viewer gets bored there's always Crawford's bizarre wardrobe by Adrian to goggle at. Those collars!

Crawford's immature character can be annoying, but because Terry is so likeable and loves her, we want to like her too. Aherne makes the movie -- deeply in love, funny, and not willing to take any guff. He has a couple very good speeches early on, encouraging Crawford that if she's not happy, she doesn't have to accept herself as she is, and he makes the devotion he feels for a woman who's admittedly rather an airhead believable. It's hard to understand why Crawford doesn't go for such a handsome, understanding, and intelligent man immediately, but if she had, there wouldn't have been a movie!

Aherne was in a number of other good romantic comedies including MERRILY WE LIVE (1938), HIRED WIFE (1940) and A NIGHT TO REMEMBER (1943).

Eric Blore and Arthur Treacher threaten to steal the film as battling butlers. Sterling Holloway is a worker at Aherne's dig site, Aline MacMahon plays Aherne's business associate, Esther Dale is a housekeeper, and Hedda Hopper has a tiny role as one of Crawford's relatives. Although she's not listed at IMDb, I believe Marcia Mae Jones is one of the children at the Christmas party at the end.

Other familiar faces with small roles include Shirley Ross, Jason Robards Sr., Etienne Girardot, Lionel Stander, Tom Dugan, Vince Barnett, Frank Conroy, Nella Walker, and Leonid Kinskey (quite amusing as a soup-drinking waiter).

I LIVE MY LIFE was directed by W.S. Van Dyke (THE THIN MAN) from a script by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. It was filmed by George Folsey and the uncredited William H. Daniels. The score is by Dimitri Tiomkin.

The Warner Archive DVD is for the most part a fine print. The disc includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered at the Warner Archive website.


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