This blithe comedy marked Cary Grant's film debut, a charming and engaging romp that maintains a fresh feeling from the first frame to the last. Taken from the 1925 Broadway comedy "Naughty Cinderella," the film opens with Thelma Todd in Paris making time with rich bachelor Roland Young.
While escorting her to a party, Young catches Todd's long dress in a car door and the garment is torn from the woman. A cry breaks out--"Madame has lost her skirt"--and turns into a joyful song that suddenly sweeps the city, springs up from the streets, on the radio, and even from the top of the
Eiffel Tower. Unperturbed, Todd merely wraps herself in her long fur coat and heads home with her lover. En route she tells Young that her husband, Grant, is back in Los Angeles competing in the Olympics as a javelin thrower. The two are naturally more than a little surprised then when they arrive
at home to find Grant, javelins in tow, waiting for his wife. At that moment Young's friend Charlie Ruggles arrives at the flat, bearing two tickets to Venice meant for the lovers. Young quickly explains that he, too, is married and suggests that both couples take a holiday to Venice. Of course,
this puts the previously happy bachelor in the rather awkward position of having to obtain a wife on extremely short notice. Ruggles helps out by hiring Lily Damita, a movie extra in need of some cash, to pose as Young's wife for the trip. While they're in Venice, Damita's winsome charms prove
much too tantalizing for any of the men to resist. First Grant begins paying attention to her, which causes the green-eyed monster to flare up in both Todd and Damita's "husband." Ruggles is enraptured with her as well, which adds to the increasingly tangled love knot. Young confronts his friend
and the two engage in an animated (and quickly inebriated) conversation. After expressing affection for one another as chums, Ruggles offers to help out Young by taking Damita off his hands. Young is outraged by this and their chat quickly degenerates into a war of words. Damita, frustrated at
being the center of so much attention, decides to leave Venice altogether. But things come together amusingly by the film's close.
The comedy clearly shows the influences of Ernst Lubitsch and Rene Clair. The war between the sexes is dealt with in a sophisticated manner, the characters waltzing in and out of situations with precisely choreographed timing. The sexual tension between the principals is always held in tight rein,
and the film sparkles with witty dialogue. The "Madame Has Lost Her Skirt" number clearly takes its cue from Clair and is one of the film's most enjoyable flourishes in both style and comedy. The number becomes a running gag throughout the story, enjoyable each time without growing a bit stale. Of
course, none of this could be accomplished without a skilled cast and strong direction. Frank Tuttle's helming is excellent, perhaps the best job in his varied career. Though the story is thin, he is able to move the farce along at a delightful pace, never allowing story or stylization to
conflict. The ensemble could not be a finer one. Each player works well as a separate unit within the whole, creating genuine tensions of love and sex with marvelously funny results. Grant received fifth billing here but did not escape the notice of the critics, the majority of whom predicted a
bright future for the handsome and witty young actor. Though it would still be a few years before he came to the forefront as a leading man, he shows here the marvelous talent that would blossom into legend.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: This blithe comedy marked Cary Grant's film debut, a charming and engaging romp that maintains a fresh feeling from the first frame to the last. Taken from the 1925 Broadway comedy "Naughty Cinderella," the film opens with Thelma Todd in Paris making time… (more)