For Reel


Mama Steps Out (1937)
June 30, 2014, 6:19 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: George B. Seitz
3 Stars
Mama Steps OutA sort of comic retelling of the previous year’s Dodsworth, Mama Steps Out involves the dissatisfaction of an upper middle class housewife (Alice Brady) who is peeved to not be spending enough time around intellectuals on a European trip. Guy Kibbee plays her husband as his usual goofy, bombastic self, although this time he’s granted a little bit more dignity as the level-headed partner. There’s some comic value in the outrageous depiction of the Europeans that the couple does eventually meet–as is true in so many Hollywood films, there is nothing so promiscuous and sinful as a European amongst Americans–but by and large the picture is a minor diversion, elevated ever so slightly by the capable performers and the sharp-tongued Anita Loos as the screenwriter credited with adapting John Alexander Kirkpatrick’s play. The film features the second-ever screen appearance by “Stanley Morner”, who audiences would eventually come to know as Dennis Morgan. He has a musical number in the opening scene of the picture that shows his tremendous sex appeal and charisma–Jackson Rose’s camera is wildly fetishistic in its admiration of him. Like Morgan often did, however, he plays a rather bland love interest, with his pairing with Betty Furness dragging down the fun with its attempts to bring pathos to the farce.



Woman Wanted (1935)
December 15, 2013, 12:32 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: George B. Seitz
3 Stars
Woman WantedJoel McCrea found stardom at RKO in the early 1930s, but it wasn’t until his films with Preston Sturges in the 1940s that he really established himself as a top-tier actor. Often playing a droll romantic sap early in his career, McCrea was typically overshadowed by the women he was starring with, including such luminaries as Constance Bennett and Miriam Hopkins. On loan to MGM in 1935, Woman Wanted gave audiences a bigger taste of McCrea’s penchant for fast-talking and silliness than ever before. The picture is a rather conventional, over-written crime drama in which lawyer McCrea helps a wrongly convicted woman (Maureen O’Sullivan) escape from both the cops and the thugs pursuing her. At its best, the film indulges in screwball moments–when McCrea and O’Sullivan are laying low in the countryside, one will undoubtedly recall It Happened One Night (one particularly funny sequence includes a newly flirtatious McCrea drunk driving). The convoluted plot occasionally stands in the way of the performers, however, and although director George B. Seitz moves things along rapidly, it tends to drag due to the lackluster crime element. Seitz would be most famous for directing many of the Andy Hardy pictures, and here he shows a tremendous ability to capture the loquacious rhythms of a city by moving from one conversation to the next with a simple tracking shot or pan.