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Friday, October 19, 2012

SUZY (1936)

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT/’74, that popular compendium of M-G-M musical clips, has a charming bit from this film where Cary Grant impresses Jean Harlow with a spontaneous reprise of her nightclub song. Turns out, it’s the only charming thing in the movie. Harlow’s a showgirl in London, out of work and on the hunt for a millionaire, when she mistakes Franchot Tone, out in a borrowed Rolls-Royce, for a likely object for her affection. They fall in love anyway, but when he’s mysteriously shot after stumbling on a WWI spy ring (!), she gets scared and runs off to Paris. There she meets a rich Frenchie, Cary Grant, an ace flier with a wandering eye. But when Tone shows up, alive, well and with a new war plane for Grant to fly, things get complicated. Say, again? The story bumps along from one ridiculously bad idea to another, with the stars showing mere glints of their usual appeal. Tone speaks with an odd Irish lilt; Grant looks thick & slightly bored; Harlow puts on Norma Shearer’s posh voice; and the brief flying dogfight footage is lifted from other pics. Director George Fitzmaurice, who made a fine silent WWI fly-boy romance in LILAC TIME/’28 and a laughable MATA HARI/’31 with Garbo, now seems ready to surrender.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Harlow did much better on both her previous pic (WIFE VS. SECRETARY) and her next (LIBELED LADY). Try the lesser-known WIFE, an underrated title that plants her between Clark Gable & newbie James Stewart. Even with a cop-out ending, it’s a beaut.

CONTEST: SUZY opens backstage with Harlow all but repeating a famous comedy bit from one of her best films. Name the gag and the earlier film to win a MAKSQUIBS Write-Up of a NetFlix DVD.

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