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

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Evelyn lays a big egg in "One Heavenly Night"

ONE HEAVENLY NIGHT (1931). Director: George Fitzmaurice.

Flower girl/usherette Lilli (the amusingly named Evelyn Laye) aspires to be just like the notorious man-hungry chanteuse Fritzi (Lilyan Tashman), and she gets her chance when Fritzi asks Lilli to impersonate her on a trip to the tiny kingdom of Zuppa. There Lilli meets the handsome Count Tibor (John Boles), and the two fall in love after an initial unpleasant encounter. One Heavenly Night is, alas, not an example of one of your more memorable operettas, having an uninteresting story, tedious comic relief, and songs that are only vaguely pleasant at best. Playing a young ladies man, Boles is sexier than in such dramas as Back Street and Stella Dallas, in which he was convincingly middle-aged only a year later. Neither Laye nor Tashman are terribly attractive by Hollywood standards; although Laye isn't a bad actress, she lacks distinction. One problem with Laye in this movie is that she's rather affected even before she begins her impersonation of the haughty Fritzi. Leon Errol is on hand as Lilli's vocal coach and loving buddy, but even the great comedian isn't able to do anything to save the picture. Laye made a few more films in the thirties, and then wasn't seen again for twenty years. That same year Fitzmaurice directed Greta Garbo in Mata Hari and he guided Barbara Stanwyck in her second film and first sound picture, The Locked Door.

Verdict: A not-so-heavenly hour and a half. *1/2.

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