Friday, November 28, 2008
Blondie of the Follies (1932)
MGM cast Marion Davies in the embarrassing Polly of the Circus, they sort of made amends by casting her in the far more interesting Blondie of the Follies (what was next: Molly of the Midway?).
Blondie of the Follies benefits from two major talents allowed the freedom to do their stuff: Davies and co-screenwriter Anita Loos. In this film, Davies is allowed to show the range of her acting talents, from careful, poignant scenes to parody (in an out-of-place but funny scene with Jimmy Durante, playing himself). Under the hand of Loos and Francis Marion, the dialogue is fast, smart, quick-witted; one would never guess this was the same Anita Loos who wrote sap four years later like San Francisco.
Special mention needs to go to the perpetually old-looking James Gleason, who's given a choice role as Davies' father, attempting to prevent her from leaving their dreary tenement existence for the stage. Often used as stock comedy relief, Gleason was here given a role requiring depth of feeling, and he delivers it.
Blondie of the Follies also stars Robert Montgomery, and Billie Dove as the other compenents of a love triangle, and Zasu Pitts, who's supposed to be Davies' sister (!).
One might guess MGM tried to wreck this film in another completely implausible happy wrap-up scene of the sort the company specialized in. It didn't work - Blondie of the Follies is still worth seeing.
Blondie of the Follies is not available on DVD or VHS, but has been broadcast on Turner Classic Movies.