For Reel

Next Time I Marry (1938)
August 13, 2016, 1:26 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Garson Kanin
2 Stars
Next Time I MarryThis variation on the runaway heiress genre gives Lucille Ball an early starring role as a woman who can only claim her inheritance if she marries what her father has stipulated to be a “plain American.”  Things start promising enough—with an efficient opening scene, Ball surveys a work zone in an attempt to get any of the roadside workers to put a ring on her. But by the time Ball’s true love, the foreign socialite played by Lee Bowman, arrives on the scene, the picture barely patters along. Part of the problem is that the characters are utterly unconvincing—James Ellison’s “plain American” is a bit too goofy to carry the role, not having the sense of vindictive cynicism that a Joel McCrea or Clark Gable might have brought. And Ball, although charming as ever, is wrought as little more than an impulsive dunce. The banter simply isn’t there. But director Garson Kanin does provide a few unusual laughs, including a scene in which both Ball and Ellison’s dog reach for a plate of bacon. There is a sequence in which Ball is the victim of an attempted rape—certainly dark material for a screwball comedy, and the development becomes all the more baffling because it doesn’t seem to have a lasting effect on the relationship dynamic after Ellison comes to her rescue.

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