Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Orchids to You (1935)

ORCHIDS TO YOU (1935) is one of those "little" movies which is fairly unknown today yet provides quite enjoyable entertainment.

Jean Muir, who was so good in the previous year's DESIRABLE (1934), plays florist Camelia Rand. (I recall it was spelled that way in the film, though Camellia would make more sense.) Camelia meets attorney Tom Bentley (John Boles) when he's charged with evicting her business from a prime location.

That matter is quickly resolved when it turns out that Camelia's friend Teddy (Charles Butterworth) owns the building and had no idea the people running his business affairs planned to shut down Camelia's shop. However, Camelia's deepening friendship with Tom is complicated by her refusal to testify in one of his divorce cases -- because she would be forced to disclose the painful news that Tom's wife Evelyn (Ruthelma Stevens) is cheating on him with George Draper (Harvey Stephens).

Muir is particularly interesting as a successful, dedicated businesswoman who clearly loves what she does. (Given this, modern audiences might be disappointed that she declares at the end that a married woman can't be in business and make a good home.) The way Camelia and Tom bond over music is charming, yet at the same time it remains a platonic relationship, with Tom dedicated to pleasing his faithless wife until he discovers the cold, hard truth.

Boles is on the bland side, but a nice guy. The movie's fine cast also includes Spring Byington, Arthur Lake, Sidney Toler, Arthur Treacher, John Qualen, Patricia Farr, and Margaret Dumont. It's a pleasure watching these pros do their thing, scene by scene.

The movie was directed by William A. Seiter and filmed by Merritt B. Gerstad. The film has excellent production values, with Muir wearing striking gowns and dresses by Rene Hubert; the attractive sets include an Art Deco florist shop. The film runs 75 minutes.

ORCHIDS TO YOU is available on DVD from the Fox Cinema Archives. The print has some flaws, particularly in one scene midway through, but on the whole is nice-looking and quite watchable.

ORCHIDS TO YOU is surely not a classic, but it's a good example of the polished products which were turned out by classic-era studios on a routine basis.


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