For Reel

Trouble for Two (1936)
July 17, 2017, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: J. Walter Ruben
3.5 Stars
Trouble for Two.jpgThis adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s series of “Suicide Club” short stories casts Robert Montgomery and Rosalind Russell as the soon-to-be-married heirs to the thrones of fictitious countries. Montgomery’s Prince Florizel, having not seen Russell’s Princess Brenda in fifteen years, does not recognize the woman when he takes a liking to her at a local club. If the material seems familiar of similar royal comedies of the era, the film takes a turn at the introduction of the suicide club where the future lovers meet. Occupied by upper class socialites hell-bent on their own destruction, the group gathers regularly and distributes cards—if one is lucky, they’ll receive the card that promises them the relief of death. There is a biting satirical edge in the fact that the wealthy are so bored, ashamed, and complacent that they seek out such activities, but more than that, this sense of danger is played as improbably erotic. The courtship between the leads happens when Brenda is assigned to murder Florizel—in handling these conflicting tones, Montgomery plays the scenes with an excited sense of curiosity, treating it as a kinky game. Russell, playing things much straighter for much of the picture, makes Brenda largely enigmatic, with her final wedding-day wink at her husband finally suggesting that the time of secrets is behind them.

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