Thursday, March 04, 2010

Tonight's Movie: Ladies in Love (1936)

Three young women in Budapest pool their resources for a nice apartment, though they can't afford to put much in it once they pay their rent. All three girls are LADIES IN LOVE: Yoli (Constance Bennett) with John, an older man (Paul Lukas) who believes she only sees him as a good time; Susie (Loretta Young) with a wealthy count, Karl (Tyrone Power), who is engaged and threatens to break her heart; and Martha (Janet Gaynor) with a quarrelsome young doctor, Rudi (Don Ameche).

A fourth lady in love is Marie (Simone Simon), John's very young cousin by marriage, who is clearly infatuated with him and periodically turns up to disrupt his moments alone with Yoli.

The film is interesting and has attractive performers, although at times the storytelling is a bit disjointed; I had the feeling the narrative was missing a few scenes which had been edited out. For instance, were any scenes between Susie and Karl left on the cutting room floor? Their romance was virtually nonexistent on film; instead, Young simply talked about it. It also seemed something might have been missing between Rudi and Martha near the end of the film. For a film called LADIES IN LOVE, it's heavy with discussions about love, but light on actual romantic action.

The film seemed to have echoes of or foreshadow other movies of the era. Simon played a variation on the young girl in love with an older man which she played the same year in GIRLS' DORMITORY (1936). Gaynor seemed to be warming up for her role as a Little Miss Fix-It housekeeper in THREE LOVES HAS NANCY (1938), while the trio of girls seeking love also called to mind Young's later film THREE BLIND MICE (1938). And the Budapest setting made me think of THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940).

Power was billed as Tyrone Power Jr. in this; his next film, LLOYD'S OF LONDON, would make him a star. He has very little to do in LADIES IN LOVE other than look gorgeous. He and frequent costar Loretta Young were a remarkable-looking duo. They had more screen time together in a trio of 1937 films, LOVE IS NEWS, SECOND HONEYMOON, and CAFE METROPOLE. Their fifth and final film together was SUEZ (1938).

Ameche and Gaynor come off the best in the film, as their characters are the most sympathetic and appealing, and clearly destined for a happy ending together from the outset. Like Power, Ameche was on his way up at this point; he also starred with Young in RAMONA in 1936, and in 1937 he starred in LOVE IS NEWS along with both Young and Power. In 1938 Ameche and Power also made a splash in IN OLD CHICAGO and ALEXANDER'S RAGTIME BAND, and Ameche was a full-fledged star. One of my favorite Ameche films is also one for which he's most famous, THE STORY OF ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL (1939), in which Young played his beautiful deaf wife.

Gaynor only appeared in three more films after LADIES IN LOVE before retiring for marriage to MGM costume designer Adrian: A STAR IS BORN (1937), the aforementioned THREE LOVES HAS NANCY (1938), and THE YOUNG IN HEART (1938).

Bennett is effective as the jaded woman of the world who finally acknowledges having a heart. She got to play more lighthearted roles in her next two films, TOPPER (1937) and MERRILY WE LIVE (1938).

Watch for Lynn Bari in a single scene as a dress shop clerk -- one of dozens of bit parts Bari played in the '30s before finally cracking into more substantial leading and supporting roles.

The supporting cast includes Alan Mowbray as an egotistical magician. Wilfrid Lawson, Virginia Field, and J. Edward Bromberg are also in the cast.

LADIES IN LOVE was directed by Edward H. Griffith. It was filmed in black and white and runs 97 minutes.

This movie has not had a DVD or video release. (Maybe we'll get lucky and someday another set of Tyrone Power DVDs will be released...) LADIES IN LOVE is shown on cable from time to time on Fox Movie Channel.

There's not much substance to LADIES IN LOVE, but it's a pleasant hour and a half with some of the most attractive actors from the height of movies' Golden Era.


Blogger Tom said...

This looks good. Great cast!

6:41 AM  
Blogger panavia999 said...

This movie is from a play by Leslie Bush-Fekete who also wrote "Heaven Can Wait". (Another Don Ameche link!) Two very continental stories.

2:06 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for that info, Panavia. I love Ameche's HEAVEN CAN WAIT, one of his very best films.

Hope you can see it too, Tom --

Best wishes,

2:10 PM  
Blogger Sally said...

Great post. Very informative. I've been watching more of Ameche's films lately and I'm glad to have some references as to what to watch next.

6:27 PM  

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