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Thursday, August 15, 2013

NO TIME FOR LOVE (1943)

Claudette Colbert went straight from the advanced sexual roundelay of one of her greatest comedies, Preston Sturges’s THE PALM BEACH STORY/’42, to the more typically Neanderthal attitudes in this Mitchell Leisen picture. The fourth of seven pairings with Fred MacMurray, it’s another slightly distasteful Taming of the Shrew set-up with Claudette as an artsy magazine photog, forced to shoot some ‘sandhogs’ at a troubled tunnel construction site. That’s where she clashes (and falls) for he-man MacMurray who grabs her off her pedestal and ‘makes a real woman’ of her. More or less. Of its type, it’s rather well done, and Claudette does get a few bones tossed her way toward the end. (She also looks amazing here and, as usual, seems incapable of a bad line reading.) But probably worth a look as a time capsule of dated sexual role playing, along with some unexpectedly strong action scenes when the tunnel’s support structure gives way.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: In hindsight, the oddest thing about NO TIME FOR LOVE is spotting all the elements in common with Leisen’s next pic, his disastrous film adaptation of LADY IN THE DARK/’44. Originally produced on B’way in 1941, the Moss Hart/Kurt Weill/Ira Gershwin play-with-music was the stuff of legend. But the film finds Ginger Rogers hopelessly over-parted in the Gertrude Lawrence starring role and then makes things worse by dropping most of the musical dream sequences. (The only memorable thing in the film is the bizarre over-sized furniture when Ginger goes to see her shrink.) NO TIME gives Claudette a similar magazine job; a similar rich fiancĂ© she doesn’t really love; a similar gang of ‘fey’ co-workers; a similar sexist pig type to be drawn to; even a big fat Freudian sex dream. (She also had taken the lead in the last Gertie Lawrence stage-to-film adaptation, SKYLARK/'41.) And this cast would not only have fit all the roles in DARK, but would have better up & down the line, especially the ultra-sophisticated Colbert. And she sings, too. Alas, Claudette was wrapping things up at Paramount, getting a fortune from David O. Selznick for SINCE YOU WENT AWAY/’44 and not about to get such a plum part on her way out the door. A huge loss all around.

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