Confession: I am a bit of a marquee snob when it comes to old time movies. If the highest billed person in the title at hand is usually a supporting player in other movies, some other mitigating factor would have to draw me in. I skipped over Waterloo Bridge (1931) at least twice when watching the first “Forbidden Hollywood” pre-Code box set because 1) the other two pictures featured Barbara Stanwyck and Jean Harlow, two of my very favorites, 2) I have seen the 1940 remake with Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor several times, and 3) the biggest name in the cast was Mae Clarke, the “Grapefruit Girl” from Cagney’s star turn in “Public Enemy”. I gave it a whirl today before returning the set to the library, and man, when I’m wrong, I’m REALLY wrong. It was GREAT— better than both the other movies in the set in my tiny humble opinion.
Mae Clarke stars as Myra, a “lady of the night” who meets young doughboy Roy (Kent Douglass) when he takes shelter in her dingy apartment during an air raid in WWI England. Naive, sweet Roy falls for the bad-girl-who’s-really-good and accepts her cover story of being an unemployed chorine, while tough but lonely Myra does her best not to get stuck on him (unsuccessfully). Dramatic tension ensues— will Myra fold to Roy’s repeated entreaties of marriage knowing her tarnished reputation may hurt him and his well-to-do family? Will she follow her heart or her head? In spite of a LOUSY ending, I thought this version of the movie was about 100000x better than the Taylor/Leigh version, and I am big fan of that picture! Go figure. Clarke and Douglass are *excellent* in the leads— the natural charisma and likability of either lends a huge amount to the movie’s success as a melodrama. Oh, and my fears of a no-big-names movie were unfounded, as Bette Davis (!!) appears in a tiny role as Douglass’s sister, and no less a master than JAMES WHALE (director of Frankenstein and The Invisible Man) directed. Like I said, when I’m mistaken, I like to be VERY mistaken. 😂❤️🎞📽❤️🎞📽 #vintage #movies #1930s #precode #vintage #Hollywood #WWI #cinephile #turnerclassicmovies #blackandwhite #moviediary