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

Friday, August 8, 2008


REDUCING (1931). Director: Charles Reisner.
A very funny and engaging comedy starring the great Marie Dressler, teamed once again with the delightful Polly Moran. In this the two are sisters who haven't seen each other for many years. Divorced, Polly is now the wealthy proprietress of a health/reducing club for women, while Marie, married to unsuccessful Elmer (Lucien Littlefield) is down on her luck and has brought her whole family to Polly's townhouse at the latter's invitation. While basically good-hearted, Polly is also a bit of a snob (she pronounces her last name Ro-shay instead of roach, as Marie puts it) and tensions between the two women really come to a boil when Marie's daughter (a gorgeous Anita Page) begins dating the same man (William/Buster Collier Jr.) who's been going out with Polly's daughter (Sally Eilers). This brings out Polly's most condescending instincts and Marie's most terrible wrath. While the approach is humorous Reducing explores sibling rivalry and class distinctions in an intelligent manner. William Bakewell plays the nice boy from back home who has a yen for Anita Page.
Marie Dressler was a brilliant actress. In Reducing she doesn't seem to act -- she just is the character; she's not saying lines she's spontaneously saying whatever comes into her character's head. Her comic timing is faultless; there is never a self-conscious, awkward or untrue moment.
She's a genius.
Verdict: Wonderful! ***.

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