Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Tonight's Movie: Don't Bet on Women (1931)

A terrific cast buoys DON'T BET ON WOMEN (1931), a giddy pre-Code comedy.

I'd term this film "Ernst Lubitsch lite," as it made me think of the great director's pre-Code bedroom farces. DON'T BET ON WOMEN, directed by William K. Howard, isn't on that level, but it's good fun nonetheless.

The plot is nonsensical, starting with the baffling concept of luscious young Jeanette MacDonald married to Roland Young. The droll Young is always fun to watch, but the idea they're happily wed in what otherwise seems to be a, shall we say, tepid marriage is odd, to say the least.

Much of the film revolves around Young and his client, a divorced man-about-town (Edmund Lowe), discussing their philosophies regarding the fairer sex, culminating in a $10,000 bet on whether or not Lowe can get virtuous MacDonald to kiss him within 48 hours.

Meanwhile, a daffy Southern miss (Una Merkel) is romanced by Lowe's best friend (J.M. Kerrigan).

The whisper-thin plot is almost inconsequential, but watching Lowe, MacDonald, Young, and Merkel exchange repartee is worth the price of admission.

They're all good, but Merkel almost steals the show from the time she swims into the picture. Her non sequitur spouting Tallulah makes Gracie Allen seem like a genius!

MacDonald is always a delight, whether she's singing or playing comedy. Here she also has quite a moving moment near the end, when she attempts to seduce Lowe and he rejects her; in a wonderful few seconds we watch her react, then gather herself back together and work herself into anger before the scene moves on to its lighthearted conclusion.

When the movie came to an end after 70 minutes I wasn't quite sure exactly what had just happened, but whatever it was, I enjoyed it!

The movie was filmed by Lucien Andriot.

This film does not appear to be available for home viewing. In the past the film's Museum of Modern Art print has been shown on Turner Classic Movies.


Blogger barrylane said...

This, I would love to see.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

You make this movie sound like a delight.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I hope you both have the opportunity to see it, I'd love to know what you each think.

Best wishes,

7:41 PM  

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