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

Thursday, February 28, 2013


Charles Boyer and Jean Arthur
HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT (1937). Director: Frank Borzage.

Ship builder Bruce Vail (Colin Clive) is pathologically jealous of his innocent wife Irene (Jean Arthur) until finally she's had enough and wants out. Vail will do anything to prevent the divorce, to that end paying Irene's chauffeur in Paris to pose as her lover. Interceding in this phony scenario is head waiter Paul Dumond (Charles Boyer), whose good intentions pave the way for all sorts of problems when Vail decides that he must be Irene's lover and frames him for murder. Believe it or not, it all builds up to a [post] Titanic-type shipwreck. Because of its rather ridiculous plot -- Dumond quits his job to follow Irene to America after knowing her one day, and even drags along the chef Cesare (Leo Carrillo)-- History almost becomes a shipwreck were it not for its romantic intensity and, most importantly, the wonderful performances of the leads. You wouldn't think that Arthur and Boyer would make a good pair, but they play marvelously together and are completely convincing no matter what the story line throws at them -- and it throws a lot. The bit with the ship hitting an iceberg is well-handled on the technical side and the wind-up is moving as well. It's also fun to watch the sharp Boyer taking over an American restaurant and getting everyone to snap to it in record time. Carrillo and especially Clive also offer sterling performances.

Verdict: Quite absurd but also quite entertaining due to the two stars. [It also helps to be an incurable romantic.] ***.

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