For Reel

Beauty for the Asking (1939)
August 13, 2016, 1:29 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Glenn Tryon
2.5 Stars
Beauty for the AskingLucille Ball had only just been cutting her teeth as a leading lady when Beauty for the Asking reached theaters in 1939. It furthered the argument that she was among the most versatile actresses of her generation—unlike the Annabel films or Next Time I Marry, Beauty for the Asking finds Ball giving an understated performance as a struggling but empowered entrepreneur who rebounds from a failed relationship by finding business success with a new face cream. Screenwriter Paul Jarrico (later blacklisted) initially conceived of the film as an expose of contemporary beauty products, but on the screen much of the beauty business is an afterthought—the film concerns the break-up and an eventual love triangle, with Ball’s recovery from a traumatic life change marking the story’s sense of progress. It is refreshing that Ball’s character, as devastated as she is, never resorts to hysterics, and even when she confronts the woman (Frieda Inescourt) her ex (Patric Knowles) left her for she does so with a terrific amount of empathy. The film is unfortunately hampered by the fact that Ball’s co-stars in the love triangle are Knowles and Donald Woods, two fair but bland leading men of programmers of the period, but Ball’s performance maintains a level of interest.

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