“Desirable” – Revisited

December 18, 2016

While watching this tonight, I realized that I had watched it once before, in July of 2008.  I couldn’t remember a jot of it, and I was surprised — until I remember that, last time, I had a 3-month-old girl on my lap taking a rare nap.

It’s a pretty good love story.  Odd take on some conventional beats. Charles plays the rival suitor.   He has 5th billing, and is in a handful of scenes.  Here are nearly all of them.

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Director is Archie Mayo, who Starrett never worked with again, but at least one Other Cowboy star did.  That was Dick Foran, playing with Humphrey Bogart in both 1939’s Black Legion and 1936’s Petrified Forest.

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“Desirable”

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!