Monday, January 9, 2012

Interlude: Lydia

As several members of our group were missing, we held off on our next Carole Lombard movie and instead watched Lydia, a little gem from 1941.  Told in flashback, the movie is the story of Lydia Macmillan (Merle Oberon), who was a much sought after belle in her youth, who became an unmarried philanthropist.  At a party celebrating her good works, she meets one of her youthful romances, Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick (Joseph Cotton).  The son of her grandmother's butler, Michael had once had hopes of marrying Lydia, but, alas, it was not to be, because Lydia lost her heart to Richard Mason (Alan Marshal), a cad who seduced our heroine and then abandoned her.  Michael throws a party for Lydia, and invites her three romances: Mason, Frank Audry (Hans Yarah), a blind composer, and Bob Willard (George Reeves), a college football hero.  All are present, except for Mason, and the party of four begin to reminisce about the past.

Ms. Oberon is lovely as the youthful Lydia, but her makeup in the old-age scenes is rather odd (the men look SO much better; so much more realistic). We all enjoyed seeing George Reeves as the egotistical Bob (his drunk scene is quite funny), and of course, Joseph Cotton is always a pleasure to watch.  We really could not understand WHY Lydia would prefer Richard to Michael.  Michael is much more appealing; Alan Marshal is rather a non-entity compared to the much more dynamic Cotton. Also fun to watch (always) was Edna May Oliver as Granny. From the minute she shows up, Ms. Oliver is a delight.

Released in 1941, in many ways this film is shocking, in that it discusses a woman who has a two-week affair with a man who is probably married, yet her only punishment is to be single. Then again, one assumes in 1941, that was a fate worse than death for most women. But one can't help but thinking that Lydia made a huge mistake in abandoning Michael, no matter how profound her life was as a philanthropist (heck, Michael would have let her do both, even in 1941).

Next time, we promise another Carole Lombard movie!!

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