Sunday, November 2, 2008
There are some scenes in Faithless that may require you to rewind the film to the beginning and see the lion again in order to convince yourself you're watching an MGM movie.
Faithless tackles the Depression in a more honest and sordid manner than MGM usually did. Tallulah Bankhead plays a rich heir, living it up while her savings disappear during the financial crash. She falls in love with Robert Montgomery, a perpetually optimistic advertising executive of limited financial means (in comparison). The first half of the movie involves Bankhead fighting Montgomery's insistence on their living on his limited means - it takes place amidst art deco sets. The second half takes place in small, dirty apartments as penniless Bankhead is reduced to prostitution to save Montgomery's life. These depressing scenes are subtle and effective.
The actors are fine in these roles (though Montgomery's nearly constant child-like dialogue becomes tedious - no fault of his); Bankhead is, of course, most convincing in her state-of-the-art luxury apparel and hoity-toity surroundings - she was born for roles like this. Tallulah Bankhead fans will want to check this out, one of the best of her few early '30s movies.
Faithless is unfortunately bookended by unconvincing opening and closing scenes. The screenplay does not explain how Bankhead and Montgomery's characters know each other (living in disperate social circles). As for the quick and absurdly bright ending, chopped off by the MGM logo, one can imagine a cigar-chomping producer standing up from his seat in a dark screening room and declaring "That's it. It's over. End it there. It was due on Tuesday"
Faithless is not available on VHS or DVD. It has been broadcast on Turner Classic Movies.