Monday, January 23, 2012

Carole Marries Gene

In 1933's Brief Moment, Carole Lombard plays Abby Fane, a nightclub singer who is loved by - and loves - wealthy Rod Deane (Gene Raymond).  Despite the objections of his family, Rod and Abby marry, and have an extensive honeymoon in Europe.  When they return to their home in New York, they find that the home that Abby has hoped to design has been completely done over by Rod's dilettante friend, Sigrift (Monroe Owsley), who spends most of his time encouraging Rod to overspend and over-drink.  Abby is heartbroken at her husband's lifestyle, finally telling him that he has one choice - to find gainful employ, or to lose her.

One thing that is rather odd about this film is the relationship between Rod Deane, his brother Franklin, and their father.  Mr. Deane runs a huge business, yet he has totally cut his sons out of the running of the enterprise.  Son Franklin is a vice-president, but does nothing all day but play the horses. Why? Because his father will not share the responsibility of the firm.  One wonders what will happen when Mr. Deane is no longer able to work.  Then again, Mr. Deane isn't working all that much - he is MUCH more interested in his stable of horses.  Given that the action is contemporary to 1933, one wonders how the family survived the Depression with their wealth intact.  One interesting scene involves the writing of a check - we see the monthly allowance that is going to Rod - $4,000.  In 1933, that would have been more than the yearly salary for most people. One can only imagine the shock of seeing that number being given out to a young man who is doing absolutely nothing with his life.
While this is a slight little movie, the costuming is wonderful (Carole has some lovely dresses), and our Ms. Lombard is just lovely as the noble Abby.  Abby is reserved and gracious - she has much more "class" than her upper-class husband and his obnoxious family.  Gene Raymond is fine as Rod (though Raymond is not one of our favorite actors).  It is interesting to see Donald Cook again (just two years after he appeared in Public Enemy). The actor that stands out, though, is Monroe Owsley, who is (again) playing a cad.  He does it so well, and when he is on screen, he is fascinating to watch.

Certainly not one of Ms. Lombard's best films, but certainly worth a quick look.

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