Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tonight's Movie: Man-Proof (1938) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

An engaging quartet of actors star in MAN-PROOF (1938), just released by the Warner Archive.

Myrna Loy plays Mimi, whose hopes of marrying Alan (Walter Pidgeon) go down in flames when she gets a telegram that he's engaged to wealthy Elizabeth (Rosalind Russell).

Mimi bravely serves as bridesmaid at the wedding, then tries to move on with her life, working as an artist at the same paper where old family friend Jimmy (Franchot Tone) is a cartoonist. Mimi and Jimmy can't seem to help squabbling, yet it's always Jimmy that Mimi turns to when the chips are down.

Mimi toys with the idea of trying to get Alan back...will she or won't she?

I first saw this film back in 2009, and this was one of those times where I found the movie was actually better than I'd remembered. My chief memory of the film was of Loy's Mimi being an immature pill, and while that's true, the character development is really handled quite well. It helps that while the story is the stuff of melodrama, the movie as a whole has a light touch.

There's a gradual reveal that Alan isn't really all that noble a character, which Elizabeth has known all along, yet loved him anyway. The viewer is willing to forgive Alan and Mimi quite a bit because of good will toward Pidgeon and Loy; meanwhile Russell and Tone come off quite well, especially the genial Tone.

While I could have wished for a bit more development of the relationship between Mimi and Jimmy, all is resolved satisfactorily and sensibly within a brisk 75-minute running time. It's a pleasant viewing experience getting to that point, and those who love glossy MGM films of the '30s, as I do, should find this quite enjoyable.

Nana Bryant adds a great deal to the film as Mimi's wise, wisecracking romance novelist mother Meg, who enjoys friendly banter with Jimmy and does her best to counsel her daughter against making a fool of herself.

The film also offers many visual pleasures, whether it's the set design and art decoration -- I want to move into Meg's country home! -- or the costume design by Dolly Tree. Loy wears a white party gown which is simply stunning. The one exception to the great costume designs is Russell's medieval-inspired wedding gown, which includes a headdress which probably prompts every viewer to wonder "What on earth were they thinking?!"

It should be noted that while Rita Johnson and Ruth Hussey are both billed fairly prominently, it seems that most of their parts were left on the cutting-room floor, as they are little more than extras or bit players. They can be glimpsed as bridesmaids at Alan and Elizabeth's wedding and again greeting Mimi at a party.

John Miljan has a nice part as Alan's best man, who bolsters Mimi at the wedding. George Chandler makes a brief appearance as a newspaper employee, one of many such roles in his long career. Familiar faces such as Joyce Compton, Aileen Pringle, and Harry Davenport also pop in briefly.

MAN-PROOF was directed by Richard Thorpe and filmed in black and white by Karl Freund.

The print is for the most part quite fine, with good sound quality. The trailer is included on the DVD.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older