For Reel

Men Are Like That (1930)
July 24, 2012, 1:32 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Frank Tuttle

The second of four adaptations of George Kelly’s stage play The Show-Off, Men Are Like That stars Hal Skelly as an obnoxious boaster who seeks the approval of his sweetheart, played forgettably by Doris Hill. It is hard to believe that the adaptation is credited to Citizen Kane‘s Herman J. Mankiewicz, as although the screenplay involves the occasional wit, it is utterly formless. Skelly, an accomplished Broadway actor, didn’t have much of a career in Hollywood, making a total of ten films before his life was tragically cut short in 1934 by a train-auto accident. This early talkie is a poor showcase of what talents he did have – though his character is wrought to be a blowhard, Skelly guffaws his way through a completely unrealized performance, drifting between theatrical comedy and every-man pathos gracelessly. The film’s best moments are in its early-goings, with scenes between Skelly and Hill suggesting the gender politics of the era and how emasculated a man felt had he not been able to care for his lover. As the picture goes on, however, the script loses sight of the formative relationship entirely, meandering its way through a terribly dull legal case. Spencer Tracy and Red Skelton would reinterpret the role under the original title of The Show Off in 1934 and 1948, respectively.

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