For Reel

The Lady Refuses (1931)
March 21, 2014, 7:03 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: George Archainbaud
2.5 Stars
The Lady RefusesSilent star Betty Compson was quite busy in the early days of sound–the rare actress to make the transition gracefully, even if her success was short-lived. The Lady Refuses sees her cast as a lady of the night who finds refuge in the home of a lonely upperclass gentleman (Gilbert Emery). He wishes to stand in the way of his son’s (John Darrow) marriage to a gold-digger (Margaret Livingston) and so he enlists Compson’s alluring talents to pull him away from his bride-to-be. An unlikely love triangle between Compson, Emery, and Darrow emerges late in the picture, with the former relationship coming off as particularly nonsensical–the stuffy Emery is sexless and passionless in his scenes with Compson, spending much of his time on screen with her doing little else but brooding pathetically. Director George Archainbaud’s production is mostly workmanlike at best, but he does stage a memorable opening sequence in which Compson hurries through a dense London fog to evade the policemen pursuing her (the moody visuals are credited to Leo Tover, highly accomplished as a cinematographer later in the 1940s and 50s). Compson is passable even if one wishes it was Joan Blondell in the part, while Darrow’s flamboyant performance as a playboy is likable.

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