Saturday, April 04, 2009

Tonight's Movie: Bachelor Apartment (1931)

BACHELOR APARTMENT is an early forerunner of films like THE TENDER TRAP (1955), in which a bachelor playboy with no intention of settling down unexpectedly finds himself felled by Cupid's arrow.

The bachelor in this case is played by Lowell Sherman, who also directed; the young lady is winsome Irene Dunne, appearing in only her third film.

Sherman is miscast as the bachelor; he was in his late 40s but looks older, and his oily appearance gives him zero romantic appeal. (This is the kind of role for which Robert Montgomery's whimsical touch would have been perfect; I noticed this sentiment was echoed in the comments at IMDb.) However, Sherman does have a good way with a line now and again, and it's an entertaining film despite having an unappealing lead actor.

Sherman is more successful as a director than as the film's romantic lead; the opening sequence, in which Charles Coleman -- one of my favorite movie butlers -- juggles his morning routine with incessant phone calls and ringing doorbells is nicely choreographed.

As always, Irene Dunne is charming and believable as the upright stenographer who meets Sherman due to a misunderstanding involving her sister (Claudia Dell, who may have been a model for the Columbia Pictures logo). The characters of Dunne and her sister are introduced very abruptly, but there is a nice comedic payoff to this sequence, thanks once again to Charles Coleman.

This was Mae Murray's first sound film. Her acting style is a bit exaggerated, in the manner of silent acting; she only made one more film before retiring.

The cast also includes Noel Francis. Bess Flowers, an extra in hundreds of films, has an unusually noticeable role here as a woman demanding her necklace back from Sherman.

The film runs 76 minutes.

BACHELOR APARTMENT is not available on video or DVD. It has been shown on Turner Classic Movies. The print I recorded from TCM some time ago was rather faded and fuzzy, but still quite watchable.

Over at Out of the Past, Raquelle has coincidentally also reviewed a Lowell Sherman film today: 1928's A LADY OF CHANCE, which starred Norma Shearer and Johnny Mack Brown. Raquelle has featured Norma Shearer all week in a series of very enjoyable posts.


Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

I saw this film some time ago. I had taped it along some other Bachelor movies (Bachelor Mother, Bachelor Father, etc.). I agree that Lowell Sherman was miscast and think that the suggestion of Robert Montgomery might have been a better choice. Otherwise, I don't remember much about this film, which doesn't bode well for it all.

Thanks for the plug Laura! :-)

6:54 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

You're very welcome, Raquelle! The insights into Norma's family were especially interesting.

Best wishes,

6:39 PM  

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