Friday, January 06, 2012

Tonight's Movie: He Stayed for Breakfast (1940)

I marked Loretta Young's birthday by watching HE STAYED FOR BREAKFAST, a giddy piece of fluff in which Loretta plays a banker's wife who awakens a would-be Communist assassin (Melvyn Douglas) to the joys of love and capitalism.

The previous year, Douglas had starred in the much better known NINOTCHKA (1939), in which he famously romances a Communist (Greta Garbo) in Paris. This time around, Douglas is back in Paris, but he's playing the Communist, Paul Boliet. When Paul's not-very-serious plans to bump off a banker (Eugene Pallette) go awry, he ends up hiding out in the apartment of the banker's lovely, lonely estranged wife Marianne (Young).

Marianne and her maid (Una O'Connor) grow to like Paul so much that they are soon inventing reasons to keep him around, and Paul increasingly finds he enjoys the company of the lovely Marianne, not to mention the comforts of steak and silk pajamas.

It's all pretty predictable, but there are some nicely played farcical moments, which also involve a tailor (Grady Sutton) and a reporter (Alan Marshal) who's been trying to woo Marianne away from her husband. Young and Douglas seem to appreciate the absurdity of the story and dive in along with the rest of the cast. Doors slam open and shut, people run around and hide in closets, and Douglas at one point ends up looking quite silly dressed in a woman's bathrobe.

The movie starts out just a bit slow, but it soon builds up a nice head of steam, providing a pleasant if not especially distinguished piece of entertainment.

William Castle, who later became a director known for his horror films, has a bit part as a policeman. The cast also includes Curt Bois, Leonid Kinskey, Nestor Paiva, Frank Sully, and Trevor Bardette.

The film was directed by Alexander Hall, who started out in the silent era and also had experience as an editor; as a director, he specialized in romantic comedy.

Hall had previously directed Douglas in THERE'S ALWAYS A WOMAN (1938), GOOD GIRLS GO TO PARIS (1939), and THE AMAZING MR. WILLIAMS (1939); Hall also directed Young in THE DOCTOR TAKES A WIFE (1940) and BEDTIME STORY (1941).

The black and white cinematography was by Joseph Walker. Loretta Young's beautiful gowns were by Irene and Robert Kalloch.

IMDb lists the running time as 89 minutes, but the print I watched ran 78 minutes, which matches the running time of a copy I just discovered is currently available on YouTube.


Blogger Kevin Deany said...

I don't know if my dad was pulling my leg or not, but he said he remembers when this played in downtown Chicago at one of the big movie palaces. In addition to the movie, the Loop theaters also had live stage shows.

He remembers the marquee reading "He Stayed For Breakfast" and below it
"With 40 Chorus Girls".

7:40 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older