Monday, April 9, 2012

Precode Bogart

This week, we examined another precode movie, notable for being an early effort of Humphrey Bogart.  The film is Love Affair (from 1932 - not be be confused with the 1939 film of the same name with Irene Dunne, which inspired An Affair to Remember) and Bogart plays James Leonard, a brilliant aeronautical engineer who becomes involved with an impoverished heiress. Carol Owen (Dorothy Mackaill) is a party girl, with a love for thrills (and no one else) til she meets Jim at the air field, where she has gone to be wowed in an airplane.  He manages to knock the stuffing out of her (by doing loop-d-loops with his plane) and she returns the favor by driving him to the City (at 80 miles per hour!)  It doesn't take long before Jim has spent the night with Carol (this is a precode, after all), and before Carol discovers that the little money she has is gone, and she will end up being a detriment to Jim's efforts to develop an airplane motor company with his revolutionary new motor design.
Dorothy Mackaill was nearing the end of her career when she filmed Love Affair.  Within two years, she left pictures for good (after seeing her rather substantial career peter out to supporting roles and then none at all).  Sad really, as she was quite talented.  We were very impressed by the scene in which she is flying with Jim - the look on her face is priceless.  Also wonderful was the scene in which we realize she has been intimate with Jim.  Her tears as she brushes her hair before she goes out to join her lover are very special. We see in her eyes all her emotions - her fears, her anticipation, her deep and abiding love.

This film is also noteworthy as an early attempt to introduce Bogart as a leading man.  Columbia obviously decided he did not fit the bill (their loss. He is wonderful in this film) and Bogart would leave to play gangsters and finally, the ultimate leading man at Warner Brothers.  Here is a scene with Bogart looking all ruggedly handsome:

Luckily, this film is available on DVD (though we caught it on Antenna TV; you could look for it there as well).  It is certainly worth your time.

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