Monday, October 14, 2013

Kay Advertises


Women are Like That (1938) stars Kay Francis as Claire King Landin;  Claire is about to marry Martin Brush (Ralph Forbes), her father's business partner, when she elopes with agency employee Bill Landin (Pat O'Brien).  A year later, the marriage is still happy, when Bill discovers that his father-in-law (Thurston Hall as Claudius King) has embezzled several thousand dollars from the firm, leaving it on the verge of bankruptcy.    Bill agrees to make up the lost money, with the proviso his wife is not told of her father's dishonesty.  As a result, Bill loses control of his stock, and of the company to the penny-pinching and incompetent Brush.

Bill is about to lose another client thanks to Brush's interference, when Claire intervenes, and lands the account.  Furious, Bill rails against her, and walks out.   A year later, they are divorced, Claire is a valued employee in Brush-King, and Bill has disappeared into a bottle as he travels the world on a tramp steamer.

We wanted to drop-kick Pat O'Brien out a window; he is a total male chauvinist in this part.  While it was noble that he wants to protect his wife, we felt he should have told Claire why he is so angry at the politics at work.  She sees the drastic difference in him; he is already drinking quite heavily, is constantly depressed, and when she tries to help, he becomes enraged.  Quite frankly, he is a very unattractive character.  We expected better from Pat O'Brien.

Francis' Claire is such an asset to her husband; it's obvious that she would have been an help to Bill, but he is so stubborn that he will not admit it.  That he eventually offers her a job, shows some growth in his character and in their relationship.  However, we thought that Claire should just dump Bill and Martin, and her morally bankrupt father and run the company herself.  We despised Claudius;  he cares for nothing but his own pleasure and doesn't care what the consequences will be for this child and her spouse.

The film gives us a some beautiful clothing by Orry-Kelly, and art direction by Max Parker.  Claire's bachelor apartment is spectacular.  But the script was lacking.  It has no depth. We felt that a lot was missing.  That Claire had no women friends detracted greatly from the story - with no one to confide in except Bill, we never get to look deeply inside of Claire.  As a result, Ms. Francis' character is left hanging.  This TCM article looks at the film within Francis' work at Warner Brothers.  

On the plus side, the scene where Claire goes through multiple beauty treatments  is hysterical.  We felt her pain! (and it is the only time when her husband appreciates her involvement).

While amusing, this is not one of Kay Francis' best movies.  Below is a trailer from the film.  We'll revisit Ms. Francis with one of her later roles next week.