Monday, January 12, 2009

Tonight's Movie: Dramatic School (1938)

As noted here last night, Turner Classic Movies aired DRAMATIC SCHOOL today in celebration of leading lady Luise Rainer's 99th birthday. My congratulations and best wishes as Miss Rainer enters her hundredth year!

DRAMATIC SCHOOL is a moderately entertaining film about a drama school in Paris. The story and script aren't very strong, but the film benefits from a deep cast of young actors being showcased by MGM.

To be quite honest, I didn't find Rainer, with her wide-open eyes, flat line deliveries, and poor diction, believable as a great actress. Perhaps it's a style of acting which works for some viewers, but her performance left me feeling a bit baffled. Rainer also didn't benefit from a poorly written part which attempted to turn her character's repeated lies into a virtue, asserting she was "starring" in a "play" of her own design.

I found the supporting cast much more interesting, including live-wire Paulette Goddard as a cynic dating Erik Rhodes (THE GAY DIVORCEE, TOP HAT); class comic Virginia Grey; sweet, honest Ann Rutherford, who loves a man who can't act (Rand Brooks); and sometime meanie Lana Turner. The year after DRAMATIC SCHOOL, Goddard appeared in a terrific role in THE WOMEN, with Grey appearing in a smaller role in the same film; meanwhile, Rutherford and Brooks were in the cast of GONE WITH THE WIND.

Henry Stephenson, one of my favorite character actors, has a significant role. The supporting cast also includes Alan Marshal, Gale Sondergaard, Hans Conreid, Melville Cooper, John Hubbard (billed as Anthony Allan), Marie Blake, and Esther Dale. Dick Haymes is supposed to be in the background as one of the students, but I confess I didn't pick him out of the crowd in this viewing.

This black and white film was directed by Robert B. Sinclair and runs 80 minutes.

DRAMATIC SCHOOL is not available on video or DVD. It can be seen on cable on Turner Classic Movies.

The trailer can be seen here.


Blogger Barb the Evil Genius said...

Did you know that Gale Sondergaard was considered for the part of the witch in The Wizard of Oz when they were going to have a glamorous witch a la Snow White? She bowed out of the part when they switched to an ugly witch.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Barb,

Sondergaard definitely had glamorous "Wicked Witch" elements in her DRAMATIC SCHOOL role (grin), although she was capable of reforming...

Best wishes,

11:35 AM  

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