Monday, January 23, 2012

Man-Proof (1938)



“I was going to take you away from Elizabeth but all I did was tuck you away in a four poster bed for the rest of your lives.”

            Man-Proof is a film that goes all over the place. It starts off as a bit of a comedy then it goes into a melodrama soap opera and ends a bit happy and silly. This sounds like a film I have seen before but those types of films fell flat Man-Proof actually works even if it runs like a rollercoaster.
            Mimi Swift (Myrna Loy) has been waiting to hear back from Alan (Walter Pidgeon) who has been away on vacation. As she waits she drives her mother Meg and friend Jimmy (Franchot Tone) nuts. A letter arrives for Mimi from Alan telling her that he and a woman named Elizabeth (Rosalind Russell) have gotten married. To top off the humiliation they ask Mimi to be a bridesmaid in their wedding.
            At the wedding Jimmy and Meg are on pins and needles waiting for Mimi to do or say something foolish. They look up at her during the wedding, she has the most miserable, nasty look on her face. After the ceremony she tells Alan that she does not wish him a happy marriage which people think she is kidding but she really is not. All anyone can really talk about is Mimi she even hears them talk about her but she does not care whatsoever. She gets drunk and tries to handle herself as well as possible. Elizabeth knows Mimi is unhappy and even feels bad.
            That night Meg calls Jimmy telling him that Mimi did not come home after the wedding. He finds Mimi at a bar getting even drunker. The next morning she wakes up with a roaring hangover. Meg tells her daughter that she needs to get over Alan and the only way to do so is to get a job and do something with herself that will get her mind off of him. Mimi gets her own apartment and a job as an illustrator at the same paper Jimmy works for.
            For a while her new life works and she does not think about Alan until she sees that he and Elizabeth are coming home from their honeymoon and holding a party for the bridal party. No one expected Mimi to show up to the party so when she does everyone is surprised. As the party progresses Mimi and Alan walk outside to talk. Elizabeth follows a little later and the three of them talk about how they can all be friends. As with Mimi getting a new job and a new place to live the plan works for a while. One night Alan takes her a fight after Elizabeth stays home sick. Their night does not end until early the next morning.
            Mimi realizes she is still in love with Alan and even calls Elizabeth telling her so.
            This unfortunately is not a pre-code where Mimi could happily and without guilt or having to be punished take Alan away from Elizabeth. That to me is fine because I could not see what she saw in Alan.
            Like several of her films I have seen Myrna Loy really does save the day. With the film being such a rollercoaster she was the only static. Many reviewers wrote that this was not one of Loy’s better roles. They most likely say that because they only know her as Nora Charles or “the perfect wife”. I liked her in this role I like how she was the bad girl trying to break up a marriage. Her drunk scene was fabulous she was hysterical. I would have liked to have seen Nora Charles be this drunk haha. The best was when Mimi woke up with a hang over the next day you can just tell she was suffering… I wonder how many times if any Loy woke up with a hangover to be that good and convincing haha. Besides a few hideous hats I loved her clothes in this film. There was this one top that looked like a man’s tuxedo but short sleeved with the cuffs rolled and even included a bowtie. She looked adorable.
            The rest of the cast was really nothing to write home about. Walter Pidgeon never does anything for me. He was one of those characters I could not understand why the lead female character cannot get over. Now if it had been Franchot Tone playing Alan I could believe Mimi could not get over him. Tone I believe I have seen in a film before but for the life of me cannot remember the film, all I know is that Joan Crawford was in it and I think Gary Cooper was as well (correct me if I am wrong I do not mind). I liked him he was good as a wisecracker I liked him as Meg’s friend and that he was concerned about Mimi but he kind of just let things happen with her and was there in the end when she needed him. Tone and Loy had a cute scene together when they are driving somewhere and they pick up a man. They tell a wild amusing story about how they have kids but they are not married. Rosalind Russell was wasted she had very little scenes. It felt like we were not made to really like her because she was the woman who took Alan away from Mimi but at the same time it is as if we are made to feel bad for her. Elizabeth and Alan are hard to understand they just seem very blah and uninspired.
            Man-Proof, although the tone is all over the place, is not a bad film at all. Believe me when I say this film is not as bad as several reviewers on IMDB have made it out to be. Sure it has its faults and is a bit weak for an MGM film but not every studio could always crank out great films. I think what it comes down to you really have to be a Myrna Loy fan to appreciate her in Man-Proof you have to have seen her outside her “perfect wife”/Nora Charles roles because this is the type of characters she played before Nora.