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Saturday, March 02, 2019

Up From Paramount Hiding


Strangers In Love (1932) Trades Threat Of Tears For Laughter

Dug from graveyard that is pre-49 Paramount, most of the apx. 700 lot left still to molder thanks to present-day owner indifference. They'd ask who cares? to buff request for these, as many are what William K. Everson used to refer to as "academic interest." Strangers In Love was a boot I tried-on sight unseen, a sort of pig-in-poke to watch or toss depending on pic/sound quality. Discs like this were made from 16mm collector prints or dubbed off long-ago broadcasts. A despairing way to collect, but how else to see likes of Strangers In Love? Best way to cope might be to pretend you've tuned in a 60's late show with rabbit ear assist, a time when we were truly glad to take whatever stations doled out. Titular strangers are Fredric March and Kay Francis, she of more current interest than him, thanks to Francis vehicles (better ones for Warners) all over TCM, and DVD racks.




March is immediate post-Jekyll and Hyde here and so plays twins, enabling reprise on J&H where the two can confront each another in FX shots surprisingly adroit for 1932. Paramount at dawn of talk could be drab, a reason David Selznick quit producing staff when he did (one among his critical memos referred to "the pit of bad and costly pictures in which we are now sunk"). Strangers In Love is at least brief (74 minutes) with a tilt toward comedy as March goes expected route of assuming the identity of his dropped-dead twin, less at stake than you'd expect were the thing played heavy as was unfortunate case with too many Paramounts of the period. Novelty has the stuffy brother deep into Egyptology and a lech after Francis, latter scenes bringing to mind March's own tendency to hit on leading ladies. Parts like this (or rather, these), along with Jekyll/Hyde, which brought Academy nod, made March a most actorly of lead men at the time, and greased path to freelance so he could choose parts and keep the elevated status. The segue from matinee idol to character stardom would be smooth, with scarcely a break in demand or steady pay. Strangers In Love is fun for obscurity seekers, Francis/March finishers, or those seeking closure on all things precode.

2 Comments:

Blogger Dave K said...

Yup, saw this one fifty years ago on an weekday afternoon screening on a local UHF station. Even in the 60's, this was consigned to nobody-really-cares-about-this-stuff time slots. Haven't thought about it since... I remember the title and absolutely nothing else about this early talkie!

8:54 AM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

Often this is the kind of movie I prefer to see rather than a classic -- classy stars in something completely forgotten. I've discovered plenty of terrific movies that way. The other day I watched "After Office Hours", which you wrote about six years ago! It reminded me -- or perhaps taught me -- how hilarious Clark Gable could be in the right vehicle. He and Spencer Tracy are fascinating in their early pictures before they became superstars.

10:50 AM  

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