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Wednesday, May 20, 2009


This typically stiff early M-G-M Talkie was considered pretty racy in its day since Norma Shearer (in an Oscar© winning perf) responds in kind to her husband’s infidelity. She doesn’t much like it, but after the inevitable divorce, she continues to play with men’s hearts. (The film makes it clear that she doesn’t do more than play after her initial booze-induced slip, but she sure acts with abandon.) A final flirtation, the most serious yet, is renounced and Norma goes all the way to Paris to reclaim her first love. (The main men in question are Chester Morris, Robert Montgomery & Conrad Nagel.) Film academics have been teasing out Shearer’s racy Pre-Code ethics over the past decade, but this story isn’t all that different from Shearer’s final misogynist hit, THE WOMEN/’39, while as an actress, she’s hopelessly affected in both. Shearer is far better in similar ‘daring’ mode in next year’s A FREE SOUL, but she’s really at her best in her ‘silent’ ingenue days, especially under a great director like Ernst Lubitsch in THE STUDENT PRINCE/’27.

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