Tuesday 1 January 2008

Consolation Marriage (1931) Paul Sloane

Steve Porter sails all the way to England to be with the love of his life, Elaine, only to find out that she's just got married. He therefore hits the pubs with a vengeance. Meanwhile Mary Brown loves Aubrey who has been her childhood sweetheart but he's about to get married to another woman, even though he doesn't seem to want to. Maybe it's all about the money. Anyway she's as floored as Steve is and as the film is called Consolation Marriage it really doesn't take a huge amount of imagination to see where the story is going to go from there.

Unfortunately that's where the believability stops for me, for a couple of very good reasons. Elaine is played by Myrna Loy, who was gorgeous in 1931 even when she wasn't playing exotic roles, but Mary is played by Irene Dunne, who looks far too much like Leslie Howard to me to warrant a second glance. She gets to sing too and I try to avoid her singing as much as I possibly can. I haven't yet seen a performance of hers that I've enjoyed and this makes no exception. If I was Steve, I'd stay inside a bottle dreaming about Myrna Loy.

Unfortunately Loy doesn't get much of a part and Dunne does. Pat O'Brien, who plays Steve Porter, is fine but he doesn't get a lot to work with here, pillow fights or no. The real story has to do with the fact that Steve and Mary get married purely because it seems like a fine idea at the time, with no love or romance involved. Yet before long both Elaine and Aubrey are back in the picture, missing their old sweethearts terribly. Of course by that time Mary's pregnant and everything's wonderfully mixed up.

This one was hard to work through. Myrna Loy got saddled with some terrible material in 1931. The silents I've seen her in were fine, though she didn't have much of a part in any of them, and she was great once the material improved in say, 1932 or 1933. This one fits very well with The Naughty Flirt and Arrowsmith: a third substandard film from 1931. Irene Dunne's films tend to be pretty good but in spite of her rather than because of her, and any success this one has follows the same trend. The women may have been wailing in their seats but I was just bored.

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