For Reel

Man of the World (1931)
May 31, 2015, 3:55 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Richard Wallace
2.5 Stars
Man of the WorldAs was often the case, Man of the World stars William Powell as a man who is always one step ahead of his associates. A con man and worldly sophisticate, he gets by as the 1930s equivalent of a tabloid reporter. Unlike many roles that Powell would play, however, this romantic drama casts him as a man who is utterly self-loathing. His growing affection for the niece (Carole Lombard) of his target (Guy Kibbee) doesn’t help his guilt complex, and for much of the film he seems sullen and depressed. In many ways, it’s a modern performance and unlike one you’d expect from the era–his eyes are often fixed on the ground, with his head tilted downwards. Watching the debonair comedian play a man so crippled by shame is a bit of a disappointment, even if Man of the World gives audiences a chance to glimpse some of his range (in the silent era, after all, it wasn’t rare for him to play dramatic roles). Fans of Powell and Lombard might have some interest in watching a film released the year they were married, but the romance doesn’t have much room to grow–Lombard is used as little more than set dressing. Wynne Gibson, as Powell’s ex-girlfriend and partner, steals the show with her bitter jealousy.

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