Dorothy Arzner – Anybody’s Woman (1930)

New York Times Review

In their enthusiasm for the idea of electric fans carrying voices across hotel courtyards, those concerned with the producing of “Anybody’s Woman,” the talking picture now at both the Times Square Paramount and the Brooklyn Paramount, favor coincidences that are absurdly unconvincing. This more or less ingenious notion can be accepted in an early episode, but when it crops up again in the climactic sequence the result is emphatically disappointing.

This film, which is based on a story by Gouverneur Morris, has, however, in its cast those intelligent players, Clive Brook and Ruth Chatterton, and therefore all is not lost. Paul Lukas also gives a clever performance.

In her direction Dorothy Arzner reveals no little care, but there are many moments when the incidents lack imagination. It becomes a case of preaching during many of the scenes, when they might have been tinctured with a suggestion or two from Sir James M. Barrie’s play, “What Every Woman Knows.” The story is invariably amateurish in its writing and its development. And even Miss Chatterton, who enjoys the opportunity of costuming herself in several attractive creations, is inconsistent in her speech. At times her voice is intentionally hard and her choice of words suited to the rôle, but on other occasions she adopts a cultured tone and suddenly acquires an enviable vocabulary.

Miss Chatterton plays a chorus girl named Pansy Gray, whose outlook on life is dismal. Apparently the only man she has ever respected was a lawyer who had defended her when she was apprehended for appearing on the stage in an inextensive costume.

The picture opens with a glimpse of Clive Brook as Neil Dunlap in a thoroughly intoxicated condition. His memory leaves him on such occasions. It is while he is mumbling in an uncertain fashion to Gustav Saxon (Mr. Lukas), a self-made man of wealth, about the wives he has divorced, that he is impelled to listen to Pansy’s discourse which he is supposed to hear distinctly only when an electric fan is turned in the right direction.

In his drunken state Dunlap is so much impressed by what Pansy says to her feminine friend that he and Saxon invite her to come to their room. Dunlap believes that a woman like Pansy would do more for a man than any of the wives he has had. So he asks Pansy to marry him, and following a brief hesitation she accepts. Dunlap is, as might be presumed, the lawyer who defended Pansy.

When Dunlap appears next morning he does not remember anything that happened while he was inebriated. Pansy tells him that she is his wife and eventually Dunlap is convinced. Later in his home town he invites a number of friends and their wives to dinner to meet Pansy. The men appear, but their wives excuse their absence on the grounds of indisposition.

There is a silly incident at the dinner, and Pansy, who has been doing all she can to keep Dunlap from drinking, takes too much to drink herself. Various contretemps occur and finally Pansy leaves Dunlap. He finds life miserable without her, and finally the electric fan is brought into action again and Dunlap hears his wife’s voice while she is having dinner on a terrace with Saxon.

Mr. Brooks’s acting is splendid. Huntly Gordon, Virginia Hammond and Juliette Compton handle their rôles with pleasing restraint.

The stage contribution is “Garden of Girls.” It was directed by Boris Petroff.

ANYBODY’S WOMAN, with Ruth Chatterton, Clive Brook, Paul Lukas, Huntly Gordon, Virginia Hammond, Tom Patricola, Juliette Compton, Cecil Cunningham, Charles Gerrard, Harvey Clark, Sidney Bracey and Gertrude Sutton, based on a story by Gouverneur Morris, directed by Dorothy Arzner; “Garden of Girls,” a Boris Petroff stage revue. At the Paramount.

698MB | 1h 20m | 592×448 | avi

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