Sunday, October 01, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Street of Women (1932) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Kay Francis stars in STREET OF WOMEN (1932), available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

STREET OF WOMEN encapsulates everything I love about pre-Codes: Kay Francis, suffering nobly in amazing gowns; an ace supporting cast including Roland Young as friend and matchmaker; and a breakneck pace of 59 minutes. The film consists of a series of short, memorable scenes, strung together like charms on a bracelet.

Francis plays Natalie, a dress designer in love with Larry, a married man. Larry is sympathetically played by Alan Dinehart, who was hilarious as Adolphe Menjou's best friend in the same year's BACHELOR'S AFFAIRS (1932).

Natalie and Larry have kept their relationship secret for three years, in order to avoid hurting Larry's young daughter Doris (Gloria Stuart), who's been at school abroad. When Doris returns, now a young woman, Larry decides it's finally time to ask his cold fish wife (Marjorie Gateson) for a divorce so he and Natalie can make their relationship legal.

There are just a couple of complications: Larry's wife says no to a divorce, and to top it off, his daughter Doris is in love with Natalie's kid brother, Clarke (Allen Vincent), also newly returned from Paris. And Doris and Clarke are scandalized and embarrassed when they learn her father and his sister have been having a long-running affair...what will everyone do?

Leave it to Roland Young, Natalie's best friend who carries a torch for her, to figure it all out...

The always-wonderful Louise Beavers is also on hand as Natalie's maid.

I simply found this film great fun to watch. It absolutely zips by, with everyone at the top of their game. What a marvelous distraction the gowns, sets, and lifestyles of the very rich (but very unhappy) must have been for Depression-era audiences. Anyone who likes a good Kay Francis melodrama should enjoy this one too.

STREET OF WOMEN was directed by Archie Mayo from a script by Mary McCall Jr. It was filmed by Ernest Haller.

The Warner Archive print of this early '30s film is a bit soft, with occasional lines and some crackles on the soundtrack, but for the most part it's perfectly watchable and enjoyable. There are no extras.

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 from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.

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