Sunday, November 09, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Her Cardboard Lover (1942) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

HER CARDBOARD LOVER (1942), Norma Shearer's final film, was released earlier this year by the Warner Archive.

The Queen of MGM, who had been a widow since the death of Irving Thalberg in 1936, remarried the year this film was released and retired from the screen after making over 60 films. She was married to her second husband, Martin Arrouge, until her death in 1983.

HER CARDBOARD lover is a goofy romantic farce adapted from a play written by Jacques Deval. Although I love the cast, I wasn't expecting a great deal going in, based on various reviews I've read over the years. I was pleasantly surprised that although it was definitely a silly film, it was pleasantly diverting light entertainment. It's hard not to enjoy spending time with Norma Shearer, Robert Taylor, and George Sanders, as well as supporting actors such as Elizabeth Patterson and Chill Wills.

Shearer plays Consuelo, a wealthy socialite who has broken off her romance with a suave womanizer, Tony (Sanders). Fearing she's not strong enough to withstand Tony's attempts to revive their relationship, she hires broke young songwriter Terry (Taylor), who owes her a debt, to pretend to be her new love and to stand between her and Tony at all costs.

The movie's a bit slow out of the starting gate but it picks up speed as it goes. There are some funny situations, with Sanders giving the best performance in the movie as he reacts to the strange goings-on around him. No one could do a cocked eyebrow or a sneering look better than Sanders! And his appeal is such one can understand Consuelo being terribly attracted to him despite the fact he's clearly a cad.

Chill Wills is also quite funny as the judge in a couple of those classic courtroom sequences which seem to regularly pop up in screwball comedies of the era.

Taylor seems a bit young for Shearer, though his age was right for the part; given that in real life that year Shearer married a younger man who was close to Taylor's age, I guess it works!

Shearer is completely daffy in this; it's probably the craziest I've seen her behave onscreen other than in PRIVATE LIVES (1931). She dives into the role with gusto.

Frank McHugh plays Taylor's songwriting partner. Is it just me or does it seem totally wrong for Frank McHugh to be in an MGM movie? His long tenure at Warner Bros. had just come to an end, and from this film on he worked in films for a wide variety of studios.

HER CARDBOARD LOVER was directed by George Cukor, who had previously directed Shearer in the classic THE WOMEN (1939). The movie was shot in black and white by Robert Planck and Harry Stradling Sr. It runs 93 minutes.

The DVD is a good-looking 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.


OpenID vienna said...

Sounds fun. Must try and catch it. I agree it does sound odd Frank McHugh at MGM. He's Warner Bros. through and through!

11:21 PM  
Blogger Blake Lucas said...

I still haven't seen it. Sounds like I'd enjoy it. No matter where Frank McHugh belongs, George Sanders always belongs wherever he is, meaning if it were just him walking around an empty sound stage he'd probably hold my interest.

On the other hand "the classic THE WOMEN" is the one Cukor movie I find unendurable. I sometimes wonder "Could any woman possibly like this?"

12:28 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hope you can check it out, Vienna and Blake! It was just what I needed to unwind with at the end of a busy weekend.

It seemed so odd seeing McHugh alongside MGM actors like Shearer and Taylor, LOL!

Blake, couldn't agree more about Sanders. He's divine.

I enjoyed THE WOMEN, as my review reflects, although I don't think I liked it nearly as much as many of my fellow classic film fans. I saw it seven years ago and, unlike a number of other films seen around the same time frame, I have no desire to revisit it yet. I will at some point, but I think it's a "once every decade or so" movie for me.

Best wishes,

1:33 PM  

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