For Reel

Are You Listening? (1932)
March 7, 2014, 2:45 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Harry Beaumont
3 Stars
Are You Listening?William Haines was one of MGM’s most bankable stars in the early days of sound, however his career would be cut short when studio head Louis B. Mayer terminated his contract due to his openly gay lifestyle. In the early sequences of Are You Listening?, Haines’ last picture for MGM, he plays his typical wisecracker, however the film eventually calls on him to put his dramatic talents to work. The resulting film is as entertaining as it is thematically incomprehensible–it has too many fingers in the pot, packing in a number of subplots that deal with (among other things): infidelity, the seduction of city life, the radio’s commanding influence on the public, advertising, morally bankrupt newspapermen, and the effects of the Depression. All that can be made of what transpires is a lot of anger directed in nearly every direction. The title morphs from a cutesy reference to a radio broadcast to a sort of plea for goodness in a culture of dishonesty and treachery. Haines is affable, but he is outshined by a remarkable female cast that includes Madge Evans, Anita Page, and a delightful Joan Marsh, whose career may be one worth further study.

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