For Reel

The Man from Toronto (1933)
February 20, 2016, 2:51 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Sinclair Hill
3 Stars
The Man from TorontoJessie Matthews was a popular star of English musicals throughout the 1930s, but prior to her immersion in that genre she starred in agreeable comedies like The Man from Toronto, which made use of her considerable charms under lightweight, screwball circumstances. According to the terms of a will, a widow (Matthews) must marry a Canadian bachelor (Ian Hunter) in order to receive a substantial fortune. The catch is that they’ve never met, and the troublemaking Matthews takes it upon herself to pose as a maid in order to suss her potential match out. It’s a similar plot to many 1930s American comedies, bringing love head-to-head against capital, and indeed Matthews comes off as a heroine not unlike one typically played by Claudette Colbert. Hunter was occasionally a compelling performer, but he was often miscast–one of his most memorable parts was as a Christ figure in Frank Borzage’s Strange Cargo, which also reflects on the very sexlessness he brings to this type of screwball picture (in these early Matthews pictures, she is often saddled with the lamest of leading men). Matthews, at this point in her career, doesn’t so much suggest an interiority to her characters as she gestures and makes pleasant faces, although it’s not like the script calls on her to do much more.

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