Monday, January 16, 2012

Carole Abjures Orchids

Carole Lombard's 1932 film No More Orchids is a delight from start to finish. Wealthy Anne Holt (Carole Lombard) is used to getting what she wants, until she meets Tony Gage (Lyle Talbot).  He has no money, and she is engaged to royalty, but love blooms, and Anne is quite willing to give up her wealth and position to be with the man she loves.  But, there is a fly in the ointment - her grandfather (C. Aubrey Smith), a rather malevolent individual who will use anything in his power to manipulate Anne into wedding his choice - Prince Carlos.

The cast here is just magnificent, especially Louise Closser Hale as Anne's outspoken grandmother. Hale is an absolute riot, and makes the picture.  From the second we see her, Ms. Hale steals the movie, and you look forward to her every appearance.  Also wonderful is C. Aubrey Smith as Anne's nasty grandfather.  The cameraman (Joseph August), has a field day, filming Smith at angles, and with lighting that make him appear as the devil.  And Smith seems to relish the cruelty that Mr. Cedric delights in imposing on those around him.  Finally, there is Lombard, who is just lovely as Anne.  She is funny and sweet; running the gamut from spoiled brat to loving daughter, without being maudlin. 

One interesting detail about the film is that it is a pre-code.  That becomes apparent when Lombard spends the night with Tony, and he later makes a comment that casts aspersions on her "honor". (She has been forced to break up with him; he doesn't know why and believes she has been toying with his affections.) It's quite suggestive!

We strongly recommend this neglected classic.

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