Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

BEAUTY FOR SALE

Sherwood (Otto Kruger) is in love with Letty (Madge Evans)
















BEAUTY FOR SALE (1933). Director: Richard Boleslawski.

 "If he gives you a hat in only an hour imagine what he can do in three weeks."

Letty (Madge Evans) takes a room with the Merrick family, which consists of the mother (May Robson), her daughter Carol (Una Merkel), and son Bill (Eddie Nugent), who's stuck on Letty. Carol helps Letty get a job at the beauty parlor where she works, which is lorded over by the dragon-like Sonia (Hedda Hopper). Unlucky in love, Carol is keeping company with a wealthy, much older man named Freddy (Charley Grapewin). Their fellow employee, Jane (Florine McKinney), is having a secret relationship with Sonia's son, Burt (Phillips Holmes). Letty falls in love with a Mr. Sherwood (Otto Kruger), who happens to be married to one of the beauty spa's customers, the flighty and affected Henrietta (Alice Brady). Will any of these women find happiness? Well, maybe ... Beauty for Sale is a highly engaging comedy-drama with a very appealing lead performance by the luminescent Evans and excellent supporting performances from Merkel, McKinney, Brady and Kruger; the others, such as Hopper, are also well-cast. The movie blends its laughs [all the funny gossiping that goes on at the beauty parlor] and tragic moments expertly, and is well-directed by Boleslawski, who often favors extreme close-ups at tilted angles. There's a nice bit when a bathroom door slowly closes on the huddled figure of Jane after she gets some shattering news. Isabel Jewell [The Seventh Victim] is very sharp and saucy as the receptionist, Hortense, and Nugent scores as the likable but sadly immature Bill, who nearly drives Letty crazy [his mistreatment at her hands is sort of glossed over]. Boleslawski also directed the interesting Storm at Daybreak and Les Miserables.

Verdict: Minor classic is well worth the watching. ***.

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