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Monday, November 10, 2008


Gloria Swanson was far more comfortable than most of her silent film colleagues in making the switch to Talkies, yet she had little more staying power than the rest of the silent glamor girls on the ‘wrong side’ of 30. (Even her big comeback pic, SUNSET BLVD/'50, couldn't revive a film career.) This rickety antique (about a grown-up gal who finds tru-love after giving her all to an unworthy beau) tries awfully hard to be modern & daring (a lot like those wildly successful Norma Shearer vehicles over @ M-G-M), but helmer Leo McCarey is not yet able to get his cast up to sound speed or to pick up his own pacing. (Hard to believe he’d make the great DUCK SOUP just two years on.) McCarey fanciers may enjoy seeing some of his standard themes of infidelity, trust & forgiveness (as seen in later classics like THE AWFUL TRUTH and LOVE AFFAIR) already in place & it’s a kick to discover that Swanson had a fully-trained, beautifully produced soprano voice (the songs were all filmed live). But even though she makes a better impression than her stage-bound romantic rivals, the film itself is a stiff.

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