For Reel

Rockabye (1932)
June 30, 2012, 7:20 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: George Cukor

The third of four collaborations between Constance Bennett and Joel McCrea, Rockabye is a pre-Code melodrama that considers a woman whose ill-conceived relationship with a corrupt politician condemns her future life as both a lover and a mother. Bennett was hot at RKO after the box office success of What Price Hollywood?, and because of it Rockabye was rushed into production under director George Fitzmaurice. When the picture was received poorly by studio executives, producer David O. Selznick brought in director George Cukor and a new leading man in McCrea, who was replacing Phillips Holmes. The film certainly plays like a rush job – it lacks wit and visual sophistication, meandering through the formalities of a passable star vehicle. Occasionally, the actors pull the material out of the mud, such as the bizarre sequence in which McCrea and Bennett romantically connect after a slapping and pushing match. The morning following the physical consummation of their relationship, McCrea fills Bennett’s bedroom with balloons, leading to some memorable visuals with the luminous Bennett waking love-struck to the surprise. If the romantic relationship plays well, Bennett’s relationship with the orphan who is taken away from her is tedious, and in the end the picture’s mean-spirited streak of sapping Bennett’s happiness away from her grows tiresome.