Thursday, July 28, 2011

Third Finger, Left Hand (1940)


It has been a while since I have posted about a Myrna Loy film. I recently went on a Myrna Loy binge on Amazon I bought Third Finger, Left Hand and Wife vs. Secretary along with her incredible autobiography Being and Becoming which I finally found for under thirty dollars (actually with shipping and handling it came out to less than twenty). Ever since I saw a clip of Loy from Third Finger, Left Hand (which is posted in this review) I have had to see it. For a while the film was unavailable on DVD and Youtube only had the one part posted. But finally through the Warner Brothers Archive the film has become available on DVD and of course being such a huge Myrna Loy fan I had to have it.
            Loy plays magazine editor Margot Sherwood Merrick. To the world she is Mrs. Merrick who married her husband while in Rio and she rarely sees him because he is always traveling. To herself and her photographer Gus she is just Margot Sherwood an unmarried but very successful magazine editor. Margot pretends to be married in order to avoid advances from the men she works with. She justifies this that if she did not pretend to be married she would have been fired by the jealous wife of the publisher since he is always hitting on his female employees. Only Gus knows she is not married because he writes letters to her pretending to be her husband.
            One day Margot is supposed to be picking up her friend from a ship that has docked in New York. She goes on the ship and finds her friend’s room but the friend is not there. Margot thinks her friend has taken up painting since there are paintings all over the room. An art dealer comes in and he is a little rude so Margot fires back at him and tells him to get out. She finds out the friend left the ship in Havana and the room was given to a painter named Jeff Thompson (Melvyn Douglas). Jeff unhappily meets Margot and tells her he was waiting for two years to get his pictures looked at by the dealer. She promises to fix the whole thing and she does. To thank her Jeff takes her out for dinner.
            Jeff never planned to fall in love with a girl from New York but he finds himself falling in love with Margot. She is even falling for him as well. He delays his train home so he can spend more time with Margot. At dinner one night Margot’s whole charade is blown. She never told Jeff about her scheme but when he finds out from one of her drunken friends who blabs about her “husband”. She does not even tell him the truth that she is not married she just continues with her lie. Margot blows the whole thing for herself when Jeff says a friend of his can find her “husband” and she describes a man in the restaurant and he notices.
            The next day Jeff has Margot’s “marriage” checked out. Of course we know as the viewer she is not really married. He decides to get back at Margot by going to her house pretending to be her long lost husband. They both drive each other crazy trying to one up the other in annoyance. Margot has enough and she lets her attorney friend Philip know about her situation. Philip is in love with Margot he wants the whole matter to go away so he can marry her. He comes up with the plan that Margot and Jeff should go to Niagara Falls to get married and wait a few days for a divorce. Neither one of them likes the idea but they do it.
            This being a 1940s romantic comedy no matter how mad Margot and Jeff may be with each other they cannot get the other off their mind and you can guess the ending.
            Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas were great together. In the films I have seen with Melvyn Douglas he was very good at meshing with his female stars. To me it seems that he was able to go back and forth with his leading ladies with the same amount of wit and energy they were giving him (I do not know how to put Douglas’s pairings any better so I apologize for any confusion). Loy was so good as always. I liked how Margot did not really back down to Jeff which Loy was great at portraying because she always had that attitude or brought it to her characters. Neither one of the lead characters really backed down with each other even Douglas played that aspect well too. It is great to see that Loy got top billing since she was either second or third billed most of the time. With MGM I sometimes find their supporting cast members/characters to be too much but here I felt they were just right and not too over the top.
            MGM added a nice little touch with a bit of the music: since they had a huge success with The Wizard of Oz the previous year and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was a big song in one scene you can hear the composer for the score added the music for the song in. They even have Loy humming it in another part.
            So here is the clip of Myrna Loy from the film that made me really want to see:

If you are a Loy fan and know her other roles pretty well I dare you not to laugh at that clip. In her autobiography Loy said her inspiration for this scene was her good friend Jean Harlow. After Margot pulls this whole scene before the fade out she plays with her gun pulling out into a string.
            Third Finger, Left Hand is a cute film. The story is predictable but it is fun to watch Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas kind of battle each other wit for wit and annoyance for annoyance. Loy and Douglas became good friends in real life on this set and you can see they were friends by the way they acted in their scenes together. I think Loy and Douglas’s chemistry add a lot to the film and without that chemistry (even if it was other actors playing the parts) it would have been boring.
            Third Finger, Left Hand is worth a viewing. As I said it is currently on DVD and if you would like to view it now go to this awesome site: Film Classics