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The Films of Leo McCarey

The Sophomore

Wild Company

Let's Go Native

Part Time Wife


The Kid from Spain

Duck Soup

Click here for review.

Six of a Kind

Belle of the Nineties (January 25/16)

As tends to be the case with Mae West's output, Belle of the Nineties comes off as a hopelessly forgettable effort that seems to have been assembled around a series of admittedly strong one-liners (ie the story is generic to an almost absurd degree). West stars as Ruby Carter, a beauty queen who decides to move from St. Louis to New Orleans after she ends things with her boxer boyfriend (Roger Pryor's Tiger Kid). Once in the Big Easy, Ruby signs a contract with club owner Ace Lamont (John Miljan) and quickly finds herself fending off his advances - with the situation eventually complicated by Tiger Kid's inevitable arrival on the scene. (There's also a tedious subplot involving a stolen necklace.) Belle of the Nineties moves at an aggressively plodding pace that persists for the duration of its mercifully brief running time, with West's simplistic screenplay boasting few attributes designed to capture and sustain one's interest. (It doesn't help, either, that the film contains a raft of forgettable music numbers.) The movie is, in the end, unlikely to please even the most ardent of West's followers, with the almost total absence of positive attributes, aside from West's mere presence, confirming Belle of the Nineties' place as a misguided star vehicle best left in obscurity.

out of

Ruggles of Red Gap

The Milky Way

Make Way for Tomorrow

The Awful Truth (November 11/06)

As silly and over-the-top as its premise might've indicated, The Awful Truth benefits greatly from the stellar work by stars Cary Grant and Irene Dunne - with Grant delivering an expectedly hilarious and charismatic performance. The story follows wedded couple Jerry (Grant) and Lucy (Dunne) as they split up and subsequently interfere with each other's plans for remarriage, as Jerry latches onto an heiress and Lucy gets serious with wealthy yokel Dan Leeson (Ralph Bellamy). Directed by Leo McCarey, The Awful Truth moves at a brisk clip and features a number of genuinely (and surprisingly) funny moments - most of which come courtesy of Grant's increasingly comedic presence. The admittedly thin storyline remains one of the film's few shortcomings, and there's little doubt that The Awful Truth has earned its reputation as one of the most effective screwball comedies from the 1930s.

out of

Love Affair (January 13/07)

This oft-told tale revolves around two characters (Irene Dunne's Terry and Charles Boyer's Michel) who meet on board a cruise ship and pledge to reunite six months later atop the Empire State Building. Tragedy ensues after Terry is struck by a car en route to the encounter, forcing the pair to go on with their separate lives (temporarily, anyway). Though Love Affair does boast an expectedly engaging performance from Dunne, the slow-pace with which the film has been imbued - coupled with the inclusion of several needless subplots - ultimately makes it awfully difficult to care about Terry and Michel's plight. It's consequently not surprising to note that the characters' climactic meeting is strangely underwhelming, particularly as screenwriters Delmer Daves and Donald Ogden Stewart force the pair to behave oddly dishonest with one another (a tactic that's clearly been employed to prolong a Michel's key discovery about Terry). The film briefly recovers for an admittedly romantic finally, but it's simply too little too late by then.

out of

Once Upon a Honeymoon

Going My Way

The Bells of St. Mary's

Good Sam

My Son John

Leo McCarey's An Affair to Remember (January 21/14)

Based on Leo McCarey's own 1939 film, Love Affair, Leo McCarey's An Affair to Remember follows Cary Grant's Nickie Ferrante and Deborah Kerr's Terry McKay as they meet and fall in love on a cruise ship - with the couple's happiness threatened by their relationships with other people. Filmmaker McCarey, working from a script cowritten with Delmer Daves, has infused Leo McCarey's An Affair to Remember with an almost excessively deliberate pace that remains problematic from start to finish, as the viewer's efforts at connecting to the material or the characters are consistently thwarted by the lackadaisical, momentum-free narrative. It's just as clear, however, that the movie benefits substantially from Grant and Kerr's thoroughly charismatic work, with the actors' palpable chemistry together compensating, up to a certain point, for the less-than-engrossing atmosphere. The film's watchable vibe persists until the two central characters are separated at around the halfway mark, as McCarey subsequently devotes the lion's share of screentime to a series of irrelevant, time-wasting interludes - including a series of interminable musical numbers with Terry's young students. It doesn't help, either, that Terry's reason for steering clear of Nickie is, to put it mildly, difficult to swallow, and although the movie picks up for a seriously affecting finish, Leo McCarey's An Affair to Remember has long-since established itself as an overlong and, ultimately, ineffective romantic drama.

out of

Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!

Satan Never Sleeps

© David Nusair