Monday, April 05, 2021

Tonight's Movie: No Man of Her Own (1932) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Last September I reviewed FAST AND LOOSE (1930) from Kino Lorber's Carole Lombard Collection I. It was a fun film with Lombard in an early role supporting leading lady Miriam Hopkins.

With Kino Lorber's Carole Lombard Collection II coming out this week, it's a great time to circle back to last summer's previous set to watch another of the films, NO MAN OF HER OWN (1932).

In NO MAN OF HER OWN Lombard stars opposite her future husband, Clark Gable, whom she would marry in 1939. I first saw the movie back in 2009; I remembered enjoying it but little about the plot.

I'm happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the movie, which I discovered has some plot similarities to a favorite Robert Montgomery film of a couple years later, HIDE-OUT (1934). Both films also happen to feature Elizabeth Patterson as the heroine's mother.

Gable plays Jerry "Babe" Stewart, a high-level card shark who leaves New York City for small-town Glendale when things start to get uncomfortably hot in New York. Among other things, Jerry is being frequently tailed by a police detective (J. Farrell MacDonald).

Love 'em and leave 'em Jerry is thrown for a loop when he meets Connie (Lombard), a smart and sassy librarian. Before he knows what's hit him, Jerry finds himself marrying Connie, and they return to the big city together.

Jerry finds a "make work" job at a brokerage office so that Connie will think he's going to work each day, while he continues to gamble at night. Eventually Connie catches on that Jerry's a cheater running a racket swindling expensive marks at the poker table, and she puts her foot down.

Jerry is initially ready to call it quits with Connie, but on second thought realizes maybe he'd rather stay married and live an upright life. But how?

This proved to be a delightful 85 minutes, between Gable's charisma and Lombard's effervescent charm. They have marvelous chemistry, and I especially like the ways the movie never quite goes where one expects.

For instance, when Connie finds evidence of the previous women in Jerry's life in his apartment, she dumps their stuff with wisecracks instead of being offended. Similarly, when one of those women (Dorothy Mackaill) turns up at the apartment, instead of having a showdown, the women end up having a heart-to-heart chat.

I also like the way the viewer isn't quite sure what Jerry is up to in the film's final minutes, then his plan is gradually unveiled.

This is the kind of storyline which could easily have turned into a tear-laden melodrama, but instead it's romantic and light on its feet. I enjoyed the film a great deal and don't plan to wait a dozen years before I revisit it again!

NO MAN OF HER OWN was directed by Wesley Ruggles and filmed by Leo Tover. There are some interesting names among the writing credits; the story was cowritten by future director Edmund Goulding, which in turn was inspired by a novel by Val Lewton, the future producer of "B" horror classics.

The supporting cast includes Grant Mitchell, Charley Grapewin, Tommy Conlon, George Barbier, and Paul Ellis.

Kino Lorber's Blu-ray looks great for a film of this vintage, and the soundtrack is excellent. The lone extra on the disc is a commentary track by Nick Pinkerton.

Still to come: I'll be revisiting MAN OF THE WORLD (1931), the final film in Carole Lombard Collection I, which teams Lombard with the actor she was married to before Clark Gable, William Powell.

I'll also be reviewing the three films in the new Carole Lombard Collection II: HANDS ACROSS THE TABLE (1935), THE PRINCESS COMES ACROSS (1936), and LOVE BEFORE BREAKFAST (1936).

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger barrylane said...

I am with you; love the film and the cast, top to bottom.Interesting you mentioned Miriam Hopkins as she was scheduled to play opposite Gable but -- Miriam thought her name should come first. Carole had no such reservation. Smart girl, huh?

4:21 PM  
Blogger dfordoom said...

It's hard to go wrong with Carole Lombard. I've liked all of the Lombard movies that I've seen, except for NOTHING SACRED (which I just couldn't get into at all).

I think her best movies were the ones with Fred MacMurray. Now they were a great team.

It's been a long time since I saw NO MAN OF HER OWN. I guess it must be due for a re-watch.

9:33 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Barrylane, how interesting. Miriam definitely made the wrong call there but it was to our benefit.

DforDoom, I agree -- including the fact I've never been much of a fan of NOTHING SACRED. I revisited it via Kino's Blu-ray release a couple years ago and while I think I appreciated it marginallly more, it's never really worked for me either. I keep going back to it periodically thinking my opinion might change, but so far not really.

I do enjoy her films with MacMurray! Looking forward to reviewing two of them soon thanks to Vol. II.

Best wishes,

5:12 PM  

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