Monday, February 13, 2012

Carole Becomes Virtuous

Today, we again visit the pre-code world for Carole Lombard's 1932 film Virtue.  In it, she plays Mae, a  young woman with a "career" on the streets, who is literally run out of New York City on a rail (on what is today Metro North, to be exact). She has no intention of leaving the City, so she bails off the train at 125th Street, where she meets Jimmy Doyle (Pat O' Brien), a smart-mouth cabbie who disdains marriage and women.  Mae runs away without paying her cab fair, much to Jimmy's disgust; however Mae decides to go straight.  Once she has the money, she seeks Jimmy out to return the fare.  After some difficulties, they fall in love, and decide to marry.  Of course, once they marry, Jimmy finds out about Mae's past.  He decides to forgive her, but of course, with forgiveness does not automatically come trust.

Ms. Lombard is just wonderful here as Mae.  She is sympathetic, but tough.  You never forget her past, but you (as the audience) are far more aware of how far she has come than the rather dense Jimmy.  Pat O'Brien is quite good as well playing a tough guy. You do want to smack him occasionally for his stupidity, but I think we ultimately want him with Mae.  Perhaps she deserves better than him, but she loves him, and he is really not a bad guy.  Here, our couple have a conversation:

It is also nice to see Ward Bond (as Jimmy's pal Fran), who is, as always, wonderful. He makes a small part something to look forward to.  Another treat is seeing Mayo Methot (the one time Mrs. Humphrey Bogart) as Mae's best friend Lil Blair.  Ms. Methot never actually looked young! And certainly her somewhat hard features complement the part of a hooker who has tied herself to a rather disagreeable - and dishonest - lover (said boyfriend is played with a good deal of slime by Jack LaRue).

Another Lombard movie that doesn't get enough play, we think.  Plus, as a precode film, you get the extra bonus of something a tiny bit (by later standards) racy.

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