For Reel

Petticoat Fever (1936)
January 28, 2017, 4:39 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: George Fitzmaurice
2 Stars
petticoat-feverThe early-goings of Petticoat Fever do much to establish the mood of a ramshackle weather station isolated in Labrador. The camera tracks Robert Montgomery as he paces the distance of the cabin, completing the tic-tac-toe game he’s playing against himself and taking inventory of the all-too-familiar belongings. His desperation sets the tone for a film in which he finds himself obsessing over the first beautiful woman he’s seen in two years—the fact that she’s engaged and her fiance is in tow is only a mild inconvenience. The snowed in cabin is an inspired location for a farce (the same year’s Snowed Under fairs a small bit better), but the performers don’t make much of the material. Loy, who fares better as a wise-cracking sophisticate, plays aloof for much of the picture, while the obnoxiously determined Montgomery is charmless (and mostly creepy) in his dedication—Montgomery plays the man as having such a single-track mind that it all but rids him of any humanity. Had Montgomery played his desperation with more convincing underlying sadness, or Loy played her character with more sass and attitude, their scenes together might have developed into something interesting. As is, however, only Reginald Owen (as Loy’s husband-to-be) turns in a fully conceived performance, equally pompous and sympathetic.

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