July 17, 2008

Handsome advertising man (George Brent) is wooing famous stage star (Verree Teasdale) but falls for her daughter Lois (Jean Muir.)

Charles shows up half way through as Russell Gray, a more “suitable” suitor for Lois. This is the second film of 1934 featuring both Charles and Jean Muir. The other was “Gentlemen Are Born.” Much like in that film, Charles is young, rich and charming. He’s comfortable smoking and drinking in a tuxedo, dances with great confidence, and kisses Lois in a cab. There’s a long scene where Lois and her mother talk about how charming and nice and well-bred he is. And what a great kisser. Soon they are engaged.

It’s interesting how effortlessy Charles plays the desirable lover in these early films. And yet, in the Westerns, it’s never really convincing. Over the years, the love stories get smaller and smaller, then they give them to the second male lead with Charley as the sometimes unknowing and often disinterested rival, and finally they just give up all together. A number of his later films don’t even have a single woman in them.

I think part of the problem is the good guy western star thing. It’s a strange machismo that Charley embodies. He’s good with a punch and gun, can talk tough, but he’s got the white hat and the ready smile too. Something about this didn’t allow room for the lover. At least, Charley never seemed to find it in these roles.

I don’t think I’ve nailed this thought. I’ll have to come back to it. Stay tuned!


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