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Monday, March 30, 2015

La Swanson Locations In Europe


Perfect Understanding (1932) Sees Gloria Less Glorious With Talk

So What's All This About a "Hot-Cha Husband"?
Gloria Swanson made this drawing room comedy in England during 1932. Her star had been setting and any success would amount to a comeback, which Perfect Understanding wasn't, though it did emerge a most polished so-far talker out of the UK. Swanson would write later that this was the first picture she made with her own funds, a not-intended outcome, but one forced by the usual chaos attendant on filming in foreign climes with unfamiliar crews. Part of Perfect Understanding takes place in Cannes, so Swanson went there and got nice footage that I presume was the first taken of that exotic playground using sound. United Artists had to bail out Perfect Understanding, and according to Variety, bring Swanson back to America after she "had been caught abroad without liquid finances." The actress was obliged to relinquish her UA stock in exchange for the rescue.


Release of Perfect Understanding timed with bank holidays and boxoffice malaise, result a woeful $168K in domestic rentals, plus $121K foreign, this toward unsuccessful recovery of $285K spent on the negative. Variety acknowledged greater costs had they shot in Hollywood, but that would merely have made Perfect Understanding a worse flop. Swanson waited over a year to try another vehicle, momentum of her once great career spent. Perfect Understanding is now available from the Cohen Group on Blu-Ray. It's enjoyable, a Brit precode novelty, not unlike US counterpart The Divorcee, from which story situations borrow heavily. Laurence Olivier, in mid-twenties and properly dashing, makes marital love to eight years his senior Gloria. She sings well, not excessively, though Victor released a disc that didn't impress Variety: Miss Swanson brings nothing to the wax but a celluloid rep. Such snark did little to advance GS re-launch as a musical star with her next, Music In The Air, a goal for which she had no small aptitude, but timing and luck were past going Gloria's way.

4 Comments:

Blogger Kevin K. said...

Another movie I saw a few years back and completely forgot about 'til now. I think I enjoyed it, more or less, but more for historic purposes than anything else. Was Swanson ever really a star -- as opposed to celebrity -- after the "Queen Kelly" debacle?

11:49 AM  
Blogger Dave K said...

Couldn't help notice the added attraction in the ad clip: Harry Langdon in KNIGHT DUTY. Another silent era biggie who had a pretty rocky talkie initiation. Like Swanson, he had upgraded the actual quality of his films greatly by this point (KNIGHT DUTY is not bad at all) but the box office ship had already sailed for both of them. Would like to see MUSIC IN THE AIR again though. Last viewing decades ago was a pleasant surprise!

12:58 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Dan Mercer considers voice artistry of silent favorites who'd sing:


Years ago, the Musical Heritage Society released an LP featuring selections by Ramon Navarro, Gloria Swanson, Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyon, and Laurel and Hardy. Navarro and Swanson had obviously received training, as their voices were well supported, but alas, not otherwise distinguished. Navarro had a light, pleasant tenor, but one suitable only for his own " Teatro Intimo," while Swanson had a surprisingly strong soprano that became rather shrill in the upper register. Only their own celebrity would have commended them to the more curious of the public.

Laurel and Hardy? They were great.

6:48 AM  
Blogger MikeD said...

Do you know of any backstory on Gloria Swanson's appearance on 'My Three Sons'? A lot of golden age actresses show up on that show, like Sylvia Sydney, Irene Hervey and Marsha Hunt. I assumed they were old friends of Fred MacMurray looking to keep busy. But Gloria Swanson seemed too big for the small screen. Maybe I'm confusing her with Norma Desmond. I should add that I did enjoy her episode where she was an old buddy of Uncle Charlie's.

8:18 AM  

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