For Reel

Faithless (1932)
June 30, 2012, 7:55 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Harry Beaumont

The opening moments of Faithless show a series of newspaper headlines ranging from 1929 until 1932 that claim that the depression is over. Each false prediction is accompanied on the soundtrack by a buzzer and a horn, bringing a light-hearted spirit to the dour times – the typical gloss of an MGM picture. This cues the audience in to the carefree heiress at the center of it all, played by Tallulah Bankhead, for whom a downed economy has not yet ravaged. The man that she intends to marry, played by Robert Montgomery, is insecure about the relationship due to her fortunes, and demands that should they be together, she must accept living on his meager $20,000 yearly salary. Not before long, Bankhead finds herself bankrupt and Montgomery out of work, and in the end she must resort to prostitution to care for her now husband. Bankhead had little interest in Hollywood in the early thirties. After a series of unsuccessful films for Paramount, she was loaned out to MGM for Faithless in what would be her last screen appearance for over a decade. In addition to her salary demands, she was infamously outspoken – it was in 1932 that Motion Picture Magazine ran an interview with her in which bluntly publicized her desire for “an affair”. She would eventually return to Hollywood in the early 1940s, most notably for Alfred Hitchcock in Lifeboat. The success of Faithless rests on her shoulders, and although she doesn’t quite fit the second half of the narrative in which she is impoverished, she is ravishing in the art deco sets in the early scenes, gleefully spouting hilariously insensitive absurdities like, “I don’t believe in delinquent girls. Silly weaklings!”

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