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Thursday, April 5, 2012

SECOND HONEYMOON (1937)

In the middle of your second honeymoon, the last person you want to run into on your hotel balcony is your Ex. Especially when Hubby #2 is too much the solid citizen and Hubby #1 still sets off the old chemical reactions. It’s kisses & spats until you succumb to the inevitable. Noël Coward’s PRIVATE LIVES? No such luck; it’s a misbegotten lunge at sophisticated marital comedy for Tyrone Power & Loretta Young and a cast of not-so-funny farceurs in this Fox programmer. (Poor Claire Trevor gets featured-billing, but nothing, nothing to do.) The stars revel in their dewy youthful beauty, but can’t do a thing with ersatz ‘rom-com’ zingers & quick reversals that are more WILL AND GRACE than NOËL AND GERTIE.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: You can hear the real thing with Noël Coward & Gertrude Lawrence in extended excerpts from PRIVATE LIVES, including the scene where they sing ‘Someday I’ll Find You,’ with Gertie wandering off pitch in her usual alarming manner. (Imagine Gershwin, Richard Rogers, Kurt Weill & Coward all writing classics for that wayward instrument. Amazing.) Or try M-G-M’s PRIVATE LIVES/’31, an early Talkie smash with Norma Shearer (pretty good) & Robert Montgomery (very good).

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