Monday 16 April 2007

Ever Since Eve (1934) Lloyd Bacon

Everything's OK says the cop and someone throws The History of Peace through the Peace and Purity League window. That someone is Marion Davies, in her last film role at the ripe old age of forty, as Marge Winton, a secretary whose talent is overlooked because of her beauty. That's hardly a leap for someone who through the power of Citizen Kane has sadly gone down in history for being the no talent mistress of William Randolph Kane, when in reality she was a natural comedian whose talents are all but forgotten today.

The story here has her being made love to (in the thirties meaning of the phrase) by everyone she works for, thus leading to a serious amount of unemployment. The only way she can get work and not get hassled is to go the other way on a Before/After makeover session, and it works a treat. Looking as frumpy as can be, she lands a gig at a publishing house working for author Freddy Matthews, played with comedic charm by the underrated Robert Montgomery. Of course the work doesn't quite go as expected and you can imagine where it ends up.

The comedy isn't bad but it's hardly the peak of either of their careers, both being perfectly adequate but frequently better elsewhere. There are comedies of errors galore with everyone apparently playing someone else, and that works its way down to the supporting cast too, with Frank McHugh playing Mike McGillicuddy playing Mabel DeCraven, romance author. McHugh is far from the only name here, with what seems like half the Warner Brothers supporting cast in backup.

The best scenes are those between the always reliable Patsy Kelly as her housemate Sadie and Allen Jenkins as Sadie's beleaguered boyfriend Jake. There's also Barton MacLane as a plumber and even Louise Fazenda, as Freddy Matthews's publisher. Unfortunately she had a much better part in the last Marion Davies I saw, The Red Mill. Here she's Freddy Matthews's publisher. In fact most of these had better parts elsewhere, leaving this a fun timewaster and little more. That's hardly a fitting finale to a varied career that hit some high highs and some low lows for Marion Davies.

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