Monday, January 28, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Give Me Your Heart (1936) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Kay Francis stars in GIVE ME YOUR HEART (1936), a melodrama available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

Francis was my most-watched actress in 2018, thanks largely to titles available from the Warner Archive, and I was glad to continue my Francis viewing with GIVE ME YOUR HEART, a particularly fine example of Francis doing what she does best, suffering nobly in stunning gowns by Orry-Kelly.

Francis plays Belinda Warren, who lives in an English village and makes the mistake of having a tryst with Robert Melford (Patric Knowles), a married man. Robert is married to Rosamond (Frieda Inescort), an invalid unable to have children.

It soon becomes apparent that Belinda has found herself in the family way, which is deduced by her friend Tubbs Barrow (Roland Young). Tubbs and Lord Farrington (Henry Stephenson), Robert's father, arrange for Robert and Rosamond to adopt the child, after which Belinda sets off for America.

On the train to Southampton -- a good half hour into the movie -- Belinda meets wealthy American lawyer Jim Baker (George Brent), and when next we see them they're married and living in New York. Despite Jim's love and her new marital happiness, Belinda is given to black moods and depression. Tubbs shows up in New York for a visit and, realizing Belinda's issue, he decides to to clear the air by throwing Belinda and Jim together with Robert and Rosamond, who are also in town...

This was a top-drawer drama thanks to a sensitive screenplay by Casey Robinson (based on a play by Jay Mallory), acted by a marvelous cast.

While Francis does become a bit annoying with her unpleasant moods midway through the film, her performance in the first and third acts is simply wonderful. She takes Belinda from lovestruck girl through panic, pain, and the agony of loss, and then, in a beautiful scene, she's able to reset how she thinks of everything which has happened and begin to contemplate being happy once more.

Francis is matched step for step by Inescort, who's enormously sympathetic as the woman who has gained great happiness due to Belinda's loss. Francis and Inescort's scenes together, particularly one they share looking at the sleeping baby (Tockie Trigg), are moving and memorable.

Young and Stephenson are especially good early in the movie as they help Belinda deal with what was an almost unthinkable problem for a well-brought-up young lady. (I was almost surprised the story made it past the Production Code, although there were occasionally films about unwed mothers in this era.) Stephenson has always been a favorite character actor, and he's excellent here as the grateful grandfather.

Brent, who was often teamed with Francis, is another favorite actor; that said, he's only in the last 2/3 of the film and doesn't have much to do in this one other than be baffled by his new wife's behavior. Still, his presence is always welcome, and he and Francis are an appealing screen team.

The cast includes Halliwell Hobbes, Zeffie Tilbury, Helen Flint, and Edgar Norton.

I wasn't surprised to read that Bess Flowers was an extra in the nightclub sequence, though I didn't spot her. It's the kind of scene she appeared in frequently! The dancers in that sequence, incidentally, were Charles Teske and Velma Wayne.

GIVE ME YOUR HEART was directed by Archie L. Mayo and filmed in black and white by Sid Hickox. It runs a well-paced 88 minutes.

The print has some scratches here and there, particularly at the beginning of the first reel, but all in all it's a fine print with good sound. There are no extras.

Fans of Kay Francis will likely love this one, as I did. I found it a very satisfying film and recommend it.

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...

Think I’ll have to get this one as I always like to catch up on Frieda Inescort films. I havent seen many Kay Francis films but I do like her - and George Brent.

12:47 AM  
Blogger Margot Shelby said...

"... a particularly fine example of Francis doing what she does best, suffering nobly in stunning gowns by Orry-Kelly."

I like Kay Francis a lot and she indeed suffered beautifully but what is funny is that in her pre-Codes she didn't suffer, but raised hell. Somehow her image changed after the crackdown in 1934. She was one of the quintessential pre-Code actresses.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Vienna, I also particularly recommend Frieda Inescort in BEAUTY FOR THE ASKING (1939) if you haven't seen it yet -- in fact she's again teamed with Patric Knowles in that one.

Margot, I think Francis was one of the people, along with Loretta Young, who really pulled me in to exploring Pre-Codes. Pre-Code or Post-Code, Francis is always fun to watch!

Best wishes,

11:24 PM  
Blogger Vanwall said...

I was surprised by this one, a Kay Francis film I had not seen before, or even heard much about. This is really one of her best performances, and Inescourt was excellent, too. The writing was superior, it let the actors avoid saying things that seemed unreal. The sharply dry byplay from Tubbs & Bones - Roland Young and Helen Flint - was marvelous work, they played off each other very well in their little sub-plot, which fed off his fine Dutch uncle routine.

5:35 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

So glad to know you liked this one too, Vanwall. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on it. It really was well done. I hope your comments will help encourage others to give this film a try.

Best wishes,

6:16 PM  

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