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

Thursday, July 14, 2016


Jean Harlow and Cary Grant's hand
SUZY (1936). Director: George Fitzmaurice.

"I don't dance much and I don't sing so well, but I can be awful cute when I want to be." -- Suzy

Suzy (Jean Harlow), an American entertainer in London on the eve of WW1, eventually finds herself married to two men at the same time: Factory foreman Terry (Franchot Tone), who at one point gets shot by a spy; and wealthy French playboy and war hero, Andre (Cary Grant) who distinguishes himself as a flier -- and a heel. How this bizarre situation came about and how it is resolved is the stuff of Suzy, a wartime soap opera that mixes dogfights, Mata Hari-types, inadvertent bigamy, adultery, German spies, and music halls -- and it's still a meandering bore. Jean Harlow is delightful in the first half of the film but director Fitzmaurice is unable to get her to properly handle some of the tougher scenes in the second half, although she certainly had the ability to do so. Tone and Grant are both fine -- although Tone is as unconvincing as an Irishman as Grant is as a Frenchman! --  but Lewis Stone walks off with the movie as Grant's stern but loving father, who eventually comes to care very much for the showgirl he at first disapproves of. [The picture eliminates Stone from the finale and shouldn't have.] Inez Courtney [The Reckless Way], Una O'Connor [Stingaree], and Benita Hume are also notable as, respectively, Suzy's pal, landlady, and love rival. Fitzmaurice also directed Mata Hari with Greta Garbo. The most unforgivable thing about Suzy is that it tries to rip off the "I was reading a book" scene from Dinner at Eight!

Verdict: Melodramatic claptrap that seems cobbled together from scenes from better movies. **.


angelman66 said...

I agree, Bill, not a great movie at all but I love Cary Grant and Jean Harlow, and they seem to be having a great time working together. I think this is the one where Cary Grant sings a song to Harlow in a biergarten or something, and that's a charming moment.

William said...

Yes, they "meet cute" in a nightclub where Harlow is singing and Grant talking loudly to his buddies. When Harlow protests in her inimitable manner, Grant gets up and sings himself (terribly) and gets her to laugh.