For Reel

The Princess Comes Across (1936)
June 8, 2015, 12:13 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: William K. Howard
3 Stars
The Princess Comes AcrossIn 1934, the murder mystery genre was given a jolt with the wild success of The Thin Man, which pulled off a delightful balancing act as a pair of wisecracking, ever-sparring lovers confronted mortal danger with a smirk and a sip of champagne. The awkwardly titled The Princess Comes Across is designed in that mold but lacks the sophistication in the storytelling. With a total of six writers attached to the project, it plays like a hodgepodge of ideas, drifting between genres without any sort of clarity or a sense of elevating personal stakes. Once the murder plot takes focus, the developing relationship between stars Fred MacMurray and Carole Lombard takes the backseat. The solving of the crime is no longer foreplay for a couple (as it was in some of the best mystery comedies), but rather a simple methodical examination. That said, it’s enjoyable to watch Lombard attempt an impression of Greta Garbo, with both the husky voice and the vacant, mask-like expression present. Another treat is cinematographer Ted Tetzlaff (a frequent collaborator with Lombard at her request), who was one of the great artists of the close-up and of light. In the darker scenes, he has a way of making Lombard’s face seem as visually dynamic as that of Marlene Dietrich or even Garbo herself.

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