W.S. Van Dyke – I Live My Life (1935)

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Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A brisk romantic/comedy Joan Crawford vehicle capably directed by W.S. Van Dyke and gamely written but not one of the better scripts by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. It’s from the short story “Claustrophobia” by A. Carter Goodloe. It’s the usual class warfare Joan Crawford film of that era with the good looking actress dressed chic and defending her free-spirited upper-class superficial lifestyle in her argumentative romance with the commoner Brian Aherne, who thinks the high society crowd are idlers and lightweights.

Bored heiress Kay Bentley (Joan Crawford) travelling with her dad (Frank Morgan) on his yacht meets on the Greek island of Naxos handsome Irish archaeologist Terry O’Neill (Brian Aherne), who’s on an archaeological dig for the Pygmalion statue. Learning that he thinks very little of the society jet set Kay tells Terry she’s Ann Morrison, the secretary of Mr. Bentley. They kiss and he falls madly in love, surpisingly following the attractive secretary to New York where he hopes to marry her. Learning the truth, the two have a spat but nevertheless grow fonder of each other. Continue reading

W.S. Van Dyke – Penthouse (1933)

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By now, Myrna Loy’s enduring portrayal of Nora Charles in the Thin Man series has pushed the fact that she was hardly an overnight success into the recesses of movie history. Loy served one of the lengthier movie star apprenticeships, appearing in over 70 films before she caught on with the public (for a more recent example of eventual-star stamina, check out Jack Nicholson’s pre-Easy Rider [1969] resume.) Given Loy’s immense gifts as a comic actress, and her obvious sex appeal, it’s surprising it took her so long. However, until she appeared in the mob comedy-melodrama, Penthouse (1933), she was typecast either as a “bad girl” or as a multi-cultural exotic with a non-specific accent. Some producers even tried to pass her off as Asian! Continue reading