“Along Came Love”

October 6, 2009

At last!  A “new” Charles Starrett film!  (Thank you, Alpha Home Entertainment.)

It’s a pretty interesting one, at least from the perspective of Charles’ career.   “Along Came Love” was released by Paramount in 1936.   I suspect it was made the year before.  Charles began making cowboy pictures for Columbia in 1935, and was under contract with that studio for the rest of his career.  If I am correct, “Along Came Love” may be the last film Charles made before signing with Columbia.  And the last film where he doesn’t appear in a saddle.

Fittingly, his role is a mash-up of a number of types that Charles had been playing during the previous five years and 30-odd films.   He’s the educated nerd of “Make A Million.”  He’s also the young romantic from “Lady and Gent.”  There’s a dash of the well-dressed suitor of “Desirable.”  Even some of the refined fella in “Royal Family Of Broadway.”   And plenty of the fit hunk of “Fast And Loose” and “Jungle Bride.”

The film is helmed by Bert Lytell, an actor who played another long-time Columbia staple, The Lone Wolf.  This would be his sole directorial venture.  It is based upon a play by Austin Strong, whose “Seventh Heaven” was the basis for Frank Borzage’s classic 1927 film.

Irene Hervey plays Emmy Grant, a shop-girl and a dreamer.  This gal is fun.   She really charmed my wife.  Charles had worked with her a few years before, in “Three On A Honeymoon.”  She’s also Jack Jones’ mother, the singer of “Love Boat Theme” and, my favorite, “Indestructible.”

Emmy visits a planetarium and falls in love with the sketch of a Greek warrior they superimpose over the constellation Orion.  The next day, she slips and falls on a rain-wet street and looks up to see…

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It’s the spitting image of the sketch.  It’s the doorman at the Palace Theater.  It’s Charles Starrett.

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His name is even Orion.  Well, it’s actually John O’Ryan.  And he’s actually a pediatrician working his way through med school.  He’s far too serious, lectures strangers about baby care, and keeps a regimented schedule for everything he does.  He’s a real nerd, albeit an athletic one — he jumps rope and jogs stiffly, changes from a muscle-T to a V-neck sweater.  But then he falls for the gal.  “Gee, it’s good to laugh, it’s like opening windows and letting in the fresh air.”

More of this — Emmy: “Are you happy, darling?”  John: “Does a fella sit in the dark corner of a park with a girl lisping lily talk because he’s sad?”

Despite his love-struck nerdiness, he looks great in a tuxedo, and swaps cocktail chatter like a pro.

50 of the 63 minute running time is spent on this happy romance.  Conflict only appears in the final act, which seems like it’s missing a reel, or that significant scenes were cut for time.  In short order, Emmy’s mom gets arrested in a raid on a burlesque house, Emmy fears the scandal will ruin John’s career, it seems like the romance is finished, but they figure things out real quick.

Reconciliation!  Marriage! A Kaleidoscopic shot of the couple on an escalator!  Fade out!  The end!

An interesting post-script — Irene Franklin, who plays Emmy’s mother Goldie, sings a song at the burlesque house before her arrest.  The title?  “I’m The Gal The Lonesome Cowboy Left Behind.”