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

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Robert Ames and Vilma Banky
A LADY TO LOVE (1930). Director: Victor Seastrom.

"Of all the lowdown, dirty tricks that was ever played on a girl!"

A vintner named Tony (Edward G. Robinson) is smitten with a pretty foreign-born waitress, Lena (Vilma Banky), and sends her a proposal of marriage through the mail. Unfortunately he also encloses the photograph and of his younger and better-looking hand, Buck (Robert Ames), leading to sensual complications when Lena finally arrives in the Napa Valley.  This is the second film version (and first sound picture) of Sidney Howard's They Knew What They Wanted and it has a slight edge over the 1940 film of that title, even though Robinson is not as good as Tony as Charles Laughton was. Robinson seems to play the character as if the film were a comedy, although he has some strong moments of poignant desperation at the end. Banky and Ames are fine, although Buck, who seems a decent enough sort, has a bit of a character reversal to bastard towards the end. The best version of this story might be Frank Loesser's The Most Happy Fella.

Verdict: Creditable adaptation with interesting cast. ***.

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