Thursday, September 3, 2009

Skyscraper Souls (1932)

Skyscraper Souls just didn't do it for me. It's a low-rent Grand Hotel, with Warren William at the top (literally) as the sordid, egotistical, predatory owner of a very tall new building. He's also out to own Maureen O'Sullivan, an innocent secretary (though he's already having an affair with O'Sullivan's boss, Verree Teasdale, and he's married to Hedda Hopper!).

Skyscraper Souls also has a few other sub-plots, including one about Jean Hersholt and Anita Page (as a prostitute) that I never could make much sense of. Mainly it's about wheeling and dealing Warren William, who gave perfomances later in his career much better than this. His nonchalant self-assuredness serves him well, for example, in his Lone Wolf series for Columbia, and he's more enjoyable to watch there. Here, he's hampered by an over-the-top script in which he justifies whatever suits his fancy for the sake of his glorious building and progress.

Skyscraper Souls is beloved by a lot of pre-code fans (it may be one of the edgiest), but the combination of characters I didn't care about with sub-plots MGM had already over-used kept this one away from my heart.

Skyscraper Souls has been released on VHS and Laserdisc. It's not currently available on DVD, but has been broadcast on Turner Classic Movies.