Monday, April 29, 2013

Connie Has a Baby (Sort of...)

Today we consider another Constance Bennett precode - Rockabye (1932).  In it, Ms. Bennett is Judy Carroll, an actress who has become embroiled in a scandal. Her former lover, politician Al Howard (Walter Pidgeon) has been accused of  being an embezzler. Judy testifies for him at his trial, but this creates huge problems for her, as she is adopting a child.  As a result of the publicity, her adoption is revoked, and the baby, Lilybet (June Filmer) is taken from her.  To help her recover, her manager Tony de Sola (played by Paul Lukas) sends her to Europe for a rest.  When she returns, she comes back with a new play - and an interest in the playwright (Joel McCrea playing Jacobs Van Riker Pell).
Our conversation went off in a number of directions. First, we again we dazzled by the spectacular costuming. No costumer was listed, but our hats are definitely off him or her.  Ms Bennett never looked better. 

We also had a discussion about several of the characters.  We wondered if we should assume that Lilybet is actually Judy's real daughter?   We compared this to such films as To Each His Own, which we discussed some time ago.  Probably not, the child is too old since this little girl is nearly two, and her affair with Al ended the year before.  We thought that Judy would have been more careful about where she placed the child (so she could more easily adopt it) - probably giving the child directly to friends, rather than to an agency.  The little girl who played Lilybet, June Filmer, was just delightful.  She seems to have had a sister (Joy) who also made a few movies.  Little June only made three movies, in 1932 and 1933.
Of course, we've discussed Joel McCrea before (and not always favorably - we like him as an actor, but some of his characters have been rather unpleasant).  Jake, however, is a good guy.  He is honest about his marriage, and is a responsible and loving man.  He takes his responsibilities seriously, and, as a result, finds that his life will become one of pain.  The commentary by Robert Osborne on the film also enhanced our experience.  Mr. Osborne's mentioned that Constance Bennett was attracted to Joel McCrea, but he didn't want to be Mr. Constance Bennett.  He married Frances Dee the following year, and they remained married until his death in 1990.  He's an impressive actor, with a varied career:  for example, he was the original Dr. Kildare (Internes Can't Take Money from 1937). Interestingly, he would never play a member of the military (see Robert Osborne's fascinating piece on him), because he himself was unable to serve during the war.

We also enjoyed the performance of Paul Lukas, Judy's manager, and perhaps the man in the movie who loves her best.  Without giving away the ending, we wished him his own happy ending.  Here's a clip with Bennett and McCrea:

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