Sunday, September 23, 2018

Tonight's Movie: My Past (1931) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

MY PAST (1931) is an entertaining pre-Code melodrama starring Bebe Daniels. It was released on DVD this summer by the Warner Archive.

Daniels plays Doree Macy, an actress splitting her romantic affections between wealthy John Thornley (Lewis Stone) and his younger partner, Bob Byrne (Ben Lyon). Doree is fond of John but is more attracted to Bob, who unfortunately for Doree already has a wife. When said wife (Natalie Moorhead) returns home from an extended European sojourn, Bob gives up Doree, intending to make the best of his marriage.

The brokenhearted Doree begins a romance with John on the rebound, but when Bob's wife wants a divorce it looks like the way is paved for Bob and Doree at last. Until Bob learns that Doree has been with John, the man who's been like a father to him...

Daniels' Doree goes back and forth like a ping-pong ball in this, first with John, then Bob, then John, then Bob, then's all quite melodramatic but it goes down easily thanks to the smooth playing of the three leads. It's especially nice having the chance to see the long-married Lyon and Daniels playing a real-life couple.

The film is definitely a pre-Code, with Doree and the married Bob clearly having an extramarital fling, as evidence by the breakfast with two coffee cups discovered the next morning by Doree's friend Marian (Joan Blondell). The behavior gets a bit over the top at times, particularly when Bob's wife not only wants a divorce but happily shares a photo of her lover with him!

While on one level the film is something of a Depression-era fantasy, a risque melodrama of people who spend much of their time living on yachts, Daniels brings the film down to earth with a sincere and heartfelt performance. Watching her face crumble as she gamely tries to pretend it doesn't matter when Bob breaks the news he's going back to his wife tugs at the heartstrings.

As for Bob, his behavior is frankly caddish, but Lyon has enough boyish charm and guilt over his behavior to maintain audience goodwill, although his outrage over Doree's fling with John is a little much, given his own behavior.

Stone is perfect as the gallant John, always a welcome, gracious screen presence, and sassy Blondell livens things up periodically.

MY PAST was directed by Roy Del Ruth and filmed by Barney McGill. It runs 72 minutes.

The print is speckled in spots, especially early on, but overall the print is quite good, with some scenes outstanding, especially considering the film's age. The sound could be stronger but is typical of a release of its era and is adequate. The disc has no extras.

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 or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


Blogger Vienna said...

I’m always interested in Bebe Daniels films and this sounds interesting, especially since she costars with her husband.
I always thought it was a shame her Hollywood career fizzled out in early 30s. Good singer too.

6:39 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I like her too -- if you're a fan I suspect you'll enjoy this. Good fast-moving drama. let me know what you think! :)

Best wishes,

10:41 PM  
Blogger KC said...

I liked this one too. Pretty much for the same reasons. It was great to see Daniels as a lead and she and Lyons are good together onscreen. That's not always the case with married actors!

1:59 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

It was good, wasn't it, KC? Glad to know you enjoyed it too!

Best wishes,

12:54 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older