Monday, May 17, 2010

Olivia and Family

This week, we watched a movie none of us had seen before (or, quite frankly, even really heard of): Call it a Day (1937). The movie tells the story of one fairly odd day in the life of the Hilton family, a middle-class English family.  Olivia plays the older daughter, Catherine, who is posing as a model for family friend Paul Francis (Walter Woolf King).  Only problem is, she is madly enamored of him, and he is terrified to be alone with her.  Mother Dorothy (Frieda Inescort) is being pursued by a would-be Lothario (Roland Young), and father Roger (Ian Hunter) is in a similar situation when his client Beatrice Gwynn (Marcia Ralston) decides HE would make an excellent night's diversion.  Silly, perhaps, but also diverting, and with a satisfying conclusion.

Though given top billing, Ms. de Havilland really has a secondary part. The main action  of the plot is devoted to Dorothy as she tries to keep Frank at bay.  But Olivia is wonderful as a heart-sore teen, who is stuck on a married man.  The rapport between her and Bonita Granville (as her younger sister, Ann) is perfect.  Young Ann is in love with art; when Paul gives her a Dante Gabriel Rossetti sketch (because she is a fan of the Pre-Raphaelites), her offer to loan it to Catherine is touching.  And logical - she won't give it up, but loves her sister enough to let her borrow the precious sketch (and as I Pre-Raphaelite fan myself, I envied her that picture!!).  An interesting note - the part that Olivia played here was played on the West Coast stage by her sister, Joan Fontaine. 
We should also mention the performance of Roland Young - who would have envisioned Topper as such a lech! He is very funny as the brother of Dorothy's friend, who develops an immediate interest in this mother of three when he meets her in a market.  The interactions between the two of them - especially the scene in which she tries to induce the busy members of her family to stay in for dinner when Frank shows up in an attempt to win his beloved away from her husband, are VERY well done.

We heartily recommend this under-viewed movie.  Well worth a look! 

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