Monday, December 28, 2009

Ms. Lombard Meets Mr. Powell

One so frequently thinks of Carole Lombard as the madcap that we forget the many dramatic parts she does. THIS is one of them. This week, we are looking at her 1931 film Man of the World.  Here she plays heiress Mary Kendall, who is close to marrying Frank Thompson (Lawrence Gray), but falls in love with con-man and blackmailer Michael Trevor (William Powell).  Just when it seems that Trevor is about to give up his wicked ways for Mary, he realizes that their life together is doomed and openly blackmails her uncle, in order to drive Mary away.

We were surprised at the bleakness of this film. Unhappiness is rampant here. No one ends this film on a happy note (except maybe Frank). And given that this is precode, we expected a warmer ending.  But, it seems everyone gets punished for Michael trying to mend his ways. 

Lombard is, as always, lovely.  She is also touching. Her Mary is warm and fragile, deeply in love with Michael, willing to forgive his past, and devastated by his betrayal.  And Powell is also wonderful here. His Michael truly loves; he even has feelings for his partner-in-crime, Irene (Wynne Gibson). She loves him and finally convinces him that his relationship with Mary is impossible, leading the the unhappy ending.
This film was released before Lombard and Powell married. Was this the film where they met? They are quite sweet together, and it was nice to see them in something other than My Man Godfrey (oh, and we all LOVE My Man Godfrey). We enjoyed having the opportunity to see something that was serious.

Next week, we do another serious Lombard movie - In Name Only.