Monday, April 23, 2012

Kay Almost Strays

Transgression (1931) is a Pre-code wonder from the always fascinating Kay Francis.  Ms. Francis plays the happily married Elsie Maury, whose husband Robert (Paul Cavanaugh) is called to India on business. Though Elsie asks to accompany him, Robert refuses, and instead sends her to Paris. While in Paris, the naive Elsie becomes enamored of Don Arturo de Borgus, a philanderer of the first water, played with relish by Ricardo Cortez.  Though Elsie tries to remain loyal to her husband at first, her infatuation, boredom, and Don Arturo's advances tempt her to stray.  And so, she arrives at his estate.  Where, as they say, the plot thickens.

Kay Francis is just wonderful as the tempted wife.  As always, she is beautifully clothed; she manages to portray the ambivalence of a young woman who longs for her husband, but is bewildered by the new rules of the jaded society into which her husband has thrown her.  Also fun to watch is Ricardo Cortez.  His Don Arturo is a total cad.  And if you think he is bad at the beginning, wait til you see the end, and realize just how horrid he truly is!  We also very much enjoyed the performance of Nance O'Neil as Paul's sister, Honoria.  What a totally reprehensible character she is! Nance plays her with relish, and she is a delight to despise.  Here she is spying on our Kay:


The end will show you why this fits so perfectly into the Pre-Code mystique.  And you will really enjoy it! We will be looking at a few other Kay Francis movies from the Pre-Code era in the next few weeks, so we hope you will join us again.