Thursday, September 2, 2010
Private Lives (1931)
It is commonly known that I have a huge, husband-irking crush on Robert Montgomery. I also have more than a passing appreciation for the brilliant work of Norma Shearer. To have them in the same movie is always a treat, and to have them in a movie based on a play by Noel Coward...well, few cinematic treasures can compare.
According to Robert Osborne at TCM, Noel Coward did not like how this movie turned out, and while that might annoy some people, as a fellow writer I totally understand. It's all part of being a genius playwright, I suspect, that one would naturally have high standards that would preclude one from liking a production of your work in which you do not appear. He's one of the best, people. Don't judge.
Private Lives the movie is 30% screwball comedy and 70% clever dialogue, written with so much sophistication that you have to pay attention. And if you watch it with your children, they might think you're a trifle daft because you'll be laughing a lot and they won't know why. Just a hypothetical thought.
Shearer truly shines in this movie, stealing scenes from Montgomery quite ably. Also along for the ride are the always fun to watch Una Merkel and Reginald Denny (who will always be to me the architect in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House).