Friday, September 23, 2011

Break of Hearts (1935)

Break of Hearts sounds like a soppy romantic melodrama and it is. Charles Boyer is an orchestra conductor named Franz Roberti. He is a notorious playboy who can get any woman he wants and it is no secret that he does. At the home of a friend he meets a young woman named Constance Dane played by Katharine Hepburn. Constance is a musician herself and idolizes Franz. She tells him she has sent him numerous works she has composed but he rejected them. He likes how simple and sweet Constance is. In typical old Hollywood style it is not long before Franz proposes to Constance.
            Constance and Franz are very happy together. They travel throughout Europe on their honeymoon until he is called back to begin rehearsals for a new show. Back no longer than a few weeks Franz is up to his old womanizing ways. Constance goes out with a friend of Franz’s to the Ritz and she finds out while sitting in the ladies room with the other woman that her husband is not faithful to her. That night Constance leaves Franz and both become lost without each other.
            Of course in the end Hepburn and Boyer get back together and live happily ever after. Nothing shocking there.
            Although this is not considered one of Katharine Hepburn’s greatest films and is quite forgettable I will say it was one of Hepburn’s better acted films. I thought she was perfect in Break of Hearts. Since RKO was having a hard time with Hepburn by this film and trying to find out what the audiences liked with her they stuck her in a romantic melodrama. Needless to say the film did not do well because she was still labeled “box office poison.” The role definitely did not suit Hepburn but I really liked her in it. I sometimes find Hepburn to be over the top and annoying but here she was excellent. She was calm, it felt like she was not trying to be the best actress ever she was just acting. This is where I can see why Katharine Hepburn is considered the best actress ever but I cannot as far as her other films (I recently read a book about the actress and I have some issues with her). I do not know how well I did explaining Hepburn’s acting but trust me she was excellent and is the main reason to sit through the film. I guess it comes down to her character not being the independent type she always played but a common girl who is awed by a man and her love and world revolve around him. It is something different than what we are used to seeing from her and I liked it.            Charles Boyer was Charles Boyer. Franz is the type character and a role that he played over and over. I liked him paired with Katharine Hepburn though it was different and interesting.
            There were several good scenes. Constance wanted to get a ticket to see Franz and his orchestra. The show was sold out but she heard them in rehearsal and snuck in. She is so inspired and awed by the performance. Franz hears her and gets to her before she runs out. Then in an apology he has the orchestra play something for her and when the arrangement is over they all stand up and bow to her. That night Franz takes her to his apartment for dinner. He asks her if it is the first time she is alone with a man in his apartment and some other things. The next night Franz is over her place and as she makes him a sandwich she asks mockingly the same things he had asked her.
            Famed RKO costume designer Bernard Newman made Hepburn’s clothes for the film. Now if you have ever seen any of Ginger Rogers’s films with Fred Astaire you will know that Newman’s costumes are very whimsical and over the top at times and they perfectly suit Ginger she had the look and the figure for it and she was just glamorous. Katharine Hepburn was a twig and one of the most unglamorous women (but not ugly) in Hollywood. Her plain costumes at the beginning were perfect but once Constance married Franz and her wardrobe became elegant the costumes just completely took her over and became distracting. Some costumes in the rest of the film I admit were very nice on the actress but for the most part they were wicked because she was so skinny and as I said unglamorous. Just some of the costume choices I did like several of her hairstyles and many were unflattering as well.

            Break of Hearts although a typical 1930s melodrama is not a bad film. It is only an hour and a half so it is tolerable and straight to the point.