Saturday, August 31, 2013

Tonight's Movie: Snowed Under (1936)

SNOWED UNDER is a pleasant Warner Bros. country house farce which runs a quick 63 minutes.

It's just after New Year's, and playwright Alan Tanner (George Brent) is due to open a new show in a few days' time -- but he has yet to write the third act!

Alan secludes himself in a country house in order to get the job done, but gradually the house is invaded by his ex-wife Alice (Genevieve Tobin), who wants to help him; his other ex-wife, Daisy (Glenda Farrell), on the hunt for her alimony checks; Pat, a young lady (Patricia Ellis) who's got a crush on him; Daisy's lawyer (John Eldredge), who develops a crush on Pat; and milkman-turned-sheriff Orlando (Frank McHugh), who threatens to jail Alan for unpaid alimony.

The movie calls to mind the previous year's Warner Bros. film THE GOOSE AND THE GANDER (1935), another country house comedy in which Brent and Tobin costarred with Kay Francis. The movie isn't a standout -- in fact, at times the situations feel a bit forced -- but it's a pleasant, quick film with a fun premise.  The house set is fantastic, though it's clearly set in a soundstage with very fake snowy exteriors.

I assumed the movie, which is mostly set in Brent's home, was based on a play, as it has that stagebound feel, but apparently it was an original screenplay which was worked on by several writers.

Brent and Tobin come off best, with Tobin endlessly good-natured and tolerant of her former husband's foibles. She's quite cute in this, just as she was in THE GOOSE AND THE GANDER. Tobin married director William Keighley in 1938 and retired from films in 1940; she and Keighley were married until his death in 1984. Tobin died in 1995, age 95.

It's nice to note that Glenda Farrell and Patricia Ellis also had successful real-life marriages. Farrell had married as a teenager; that union didn't last, but in 1941 she married a doctor, a marriage which lasted until her death three decades later. Patricia Ellis, who retired from films in 1939, married in 1940 and, like Farrell, was married for 30 years, until she passed away in March 1970.

The director of SNOWED UNDER was Ray Enright. Arthur Todd was the cinematographer. The supporting cast includes Porter Hall, Olin Howland, and Mary Treen.

SNOWED UNDER isn't on VHS or DVD, but as a Warner Bros. film it's a likely candidate for a future release by the Warner Archive.

In the meantime, it can be seen on Turner Classic Movies, where it aired last week as part of Glenda Farrell Day during the annual Summer Under the Stars festival. This would be a good film for TCM to schedule around New Year's, given the wintry January setting.

The trailer is on the TCM website.

January 2014 Update: Cliff has reviewed this film and included a great deal of background research in an excellent post at Immortal Ephemera. Those readers interested in this film should be sure to check out his essay on the film.

2019 Update: SNOWED UNDER is being released on DVD by the Warner Archive in March 2019. My review of the DVD is here.


Blogger barrylane said...

I always look for George Brent. An actor's actor.

8:51 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Agreed. I can't think of a movie I haven't liked him in. Very underrated.

Best wishes,

9:19 PM  
Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

I'm sad I missed this one!

7:40 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

This was a fun little movie, Raquel, especially if you like the actors. I'd never heard of it until it ran on Glenda Farrell Day in August -- hope it will be on again before too long so you can catch it.

Best wishes,

1:28 PM  

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