Monday, August 10, 2009

Claudette Sings!

Last evening's precode movie was Torch Singer (1933), with Claudette Colbert as an unwed mother who is forced to surrender her baby for adoption when she unable to find a means of support for the little girl.  Sally (or Mimi, her career name) becomes a "loose" woman by reputation. However, IS she? We see her flirting, but never see any evidence that her reputation is more than rumor to support her employer's contention that torch singers must suffer for their art.  Suffer she does though, unable to find her little girl, she turns to drink. We (the viewers in NYC) had a lot of affection for her, and felt that her reputation was hype.

We were fascinated to learn that Ms. Colbert did her own singing.  She has two songs, a children's lullaby and her character's signature song "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Love". Ms. Colbert has an interesting (though not exceptional) voice - it dark and rather throaty, but she certainly can carry a tune, and she SURELY sounds like a torch singer.  Here she is, singing for you:




The two men in her life, played by Ricardo Cortez (as Tony) and David Manners (as Michael, the father of the her baby) are surprisingly sympathetic. Both good, supportive men, who care for her and want the best for her. We are inclined to dislike Michael at first, but when he tells his side of the story, he becomes easier to like. It was interesting, we felt, that the men WERE shown in such a positive light. We expected one or the other to be the villain of the piece. If there was a villain, it was the women (Michael's aunt) who refuses to help the destitute Sally.

We were especially pleased to see the interactions between Sally and the nun who runs the hospital where Sally gives birth. There is no condemnation here. Only support. And Mother Angelica is, as we learn later in the film, a woman of deep principle.

Again, we highly recommend this movie for those of you interested in pre-code movies, or in Claudette Colbert. She is just glorious!