Sunday, January 20, 2013

Tonight's Movie: You Can't Beat Love (1937)

After watching half a dozen movies in a row directed by Lew Landers, it was time to switch gears just a bit. I stuck with another RKO programmer, but this time around it was directed by Christy Cabanne.

The movie was YOU CAN'T BEAT LOVE, an early Joan Fontaine film teaming her with Preston Foster. Foster, as it happens, starred in the first Landers film I watched last week, DOUBLE DANGER (1938).

Joan was 19 when she made YOU CAN'T BEAT LOVE, her fifth film. (Her previous film, in fact, was Lew Landers' THE MAN WHO FOUND HIMSELF.) She plays Trudy Olson, daughter of a mayor (Frank M. Thomas) up for re-election.

Foster, who was 37 at the time, is playboy Jimmy Hughes. Through a series of circumstances he ends up running for mayor against Trudy's father, though he doesn't really want the job. He does, however, want Trudy!

The film has a promising start, with a bet inspiring Jimmy to go dig ditches early one morning in a top hat and tails! Unfortunately, it turns out to be a pretty sluggish movie, despite running only 62 minutes. The story is somewhat disjointed, and there's too much screen time for supporting characters and not nearly enough for Foster and Fontaine, who are charming together. Though it has a good moment scattered here or there, the movie is pretty much out of gas by the time it sputters to an ending.

Paul Guilfoyle seems to be turning up in every other movie I see this week; he plays Louie the Weasel in this one. It was particularly fun to discover a very young Milburn Stone (GUNSMOKE) as a newspaper reporter. Paul Hurst, William Brisbane, Herbert Mundin, Bradley Page, Harold Huber, Barbara Pepper, and Berton Churchill are among the large cast.

Fontaine looks especially lovely in a scene where she delivers a giant cake to Foster; she was photographed in black and white by future Oscar winner Russell Metty. Her gowns were by Edward Stevenson.

YOU CAN'T BEAT LOVE has been shown on Turner Classic Movies. It's not available on DVD or videotape.


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