Richard Wallace, Edward Goodman

Scen.: Herman J. Mankiewicz. F.: Victor Milner. Mus.: Herman Hand. Int.: William Powell (Michael Trevor/Jimmie Power), Carole Lombard (Mary Kendall), Wynne Gibson (Irene Harper), Lawrence Gray (Frank Thompson), Guy Kibbee (Harold Taylor), George Chandler (Fred), Tom Ricketts (Mr. Bradkin), André Cheron (Victor), Tom Costello (Spade). Prod.: Paramount Publix Corp. 35mm. Bn. 

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

William Powell played his share of villains and smoothies in his early Paramount days, but this is a transition for him, leading to the persona best featured in Tay Garnett’s One Way Passage two years later. The character he plays here is still a polished confidence man, albeit one with a conscience. A failed novelist, Michael Trevor works with a team of blackmailers preying on wealthy tourists in 1930s Paris. When he meets Carole Lombard he soon wants out of the rack- et, but his accomplices won’t let him. This film was shot during their rather puzzling romance (they married two months after Man of the World hit the screens), and both their performances are unusually subdued and morose, their voices lilting at the end of each sentence, as in a duet. Lombard is a very effective comedienne in this quiet mode, very far from the airhead parts that made her famous (see My Man Godfrey). The pace of the picture is sluggish at times, probably attributable to theatre director Edward Goodman’s inexperience; he was replaced midway by studio-fixture Richard Wallace, who got sole credit.

The ending of the picture is also a downer, uncharacteristic of the period, but the excellent last scene on the deck of the boat is bittersweet. This is as romantic as a Mankiewicz script can get. Wynne Gibson is especially good as the spurned accomplice. Earlier on, Mank gave Powell this thought-provoking line, which one can’t help finding rather personal: “In everything we do, whether we know it or not, there’s always a collaborator.”

Philippe Garnier

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courtesy of Park Circus