Thursday, August 10, 2017

Movie review - "She Couldn't Take It" (1935) **1/2

It Happened One Night kicked off the screwball craze of the mid 1930s. This was made by the same studio, Columbia, with some of the supporting cast (Walter Connolly) and imported stars: George Raft and Joan Bennett. Neither of these two were known as Kings of Comedy but actually they're very lively. I was surprised by Raft especially as he could be stiff. He's still stiff here but energetic - good work from director Tay Garnett.

The plot set up isn't bad - rich Connolly is so sick of his wastrel family he agrees to go to prison for income tax; he meets bootlegger Raft, also in for tax evasion, who he makes trustee of his estate. Raft goes about smacking them into shape. It's fun with the useless brother and ditsy wife but a bit rape-y with Bennett - especially as she's not in to him for a while.

There's various wacky support acts - an actor who gets engaged to Bennett (Alan Mowbray), the ditsy son (James Blakely) and mum (Billie Burke)... but the latter two especially are not really developed. Wallace Ford acts up a storm as a neurotic gangster; Lloyd Nolan and Donald Meek are effective as gangsters. It has a lot of pace, cops running around in cars, and snappy dialogue. Not a classic but not bad. I think maybe dramatically it was a mistake to kill Connolly so early.

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