Wednesday, January 30, 2013

They Met in Bombay (1941)



Whenever I see Rosalind Russell in a film I usually expect it to be a comedy. I always associate Russell with comedies ever since seeing His Girl Friday (which was the first time I had ever seen her in a film) and The Women. I was hoping They Met in Bombay was a comedy. To me the title sounds like a comedy. The film had a lot of potential at the beginning and then it turned into boring war propaganda.
            Gerald Meldrake (Gable) is a jewel thief. He has a friend of his make a copy of a famous necklace called The Star of Asia. The owner the Duchess of Beltravers will be traveling to India for Empire Day and will be wearing it for the occasion. He goes to India claiming to be from Lloyd’s of London saying that he is there to keep an eye on the necklace. As Gerald walks out of the vault room he sees Anya Von Duren (Russell) walk in the door. He immediately begins to flirt with her but she wants nothing to do with him.
            Anya tells one of the hotel staff that she will be meeting friends at the hotel for the Empire Day dinner the next day. She asks the staff member to bring a chart so she can pick out where she and her friends can sit. After being an annoyance to the staff member Anya finally picks a spot that happens to be near the Duchess. When the staff leaves Anya takes out her book on the Dukes of Beltravers and has certain sections underlined.
            The next day, Gerald and Anya wind up getting stuck in the hotel elevator together. Anya invites Gerald to her room once they are released from the elevator. While Anya is in the bedroom Gerald finds her book on the Beltravers and finds what she has underlined. That night Anya sits down at her table and is there for some time by herself. Eventually she makes a bit of a scene when she claims her friends have not shown up and she does not think they will show. The Duchess overhears and invites Anya to sit with her. The Duchess and Anya have a good time drinking together. The Duchess has Anya come to her room for some more drinks. Eventually the Duchess has too much to drink and falls asleep. This was Anya’s plan the whole time, she is also a jewel thief. After Anya walks out of the room Gerald goes in. He sees the necklace has been stolen so he puts the fake one on the Duchess. He goes to Anya’s room as the Lloyd’s agent. He says he will not arrest but his game is blown when two of the hotel staff members bring in the necklace to show her what it looks like.
            Now Anya and Gerald are in on the stolen jewels together since neither can notify the authorities on who has them or they will reveal themselves. Before they can get out of their car at the airport the police are after them. Gerald manages to get them on a cargo ship to China. On the way the ship’s captain Chang (Peter Lorre) gets a notice that there are two thieves who have stolen the Star of Asia. He suspects Gerald and Anya are the thieves and notifies the authorities. Gerald was one step ahead of Chang and managed to get them both off the ship.
            Gerald comes up with the idea to pose as a British soldier and once he does this the whole film goes south and becomes a piece of war propaganda.
            Rosalind Russell and Clark Gable were very good together. Gable does not really do anything for me but I found him to be a bit funny at the beginning. I hated how once they got to China the film became a Gable film and Russell just kind of fades into the background with nothing to do. Peter Lorre looks terrible in his Asian make up. I only knew it was him because of his voice.
            I felt very let down with They Met in Bombay probably because I was expecting it to be a bit of a comedy. It was somewhat at the beginning and then went to crap. I felt the war propaganda could have been left out. I am not against them in films during the forties it was important to moral but for this film it was not called for. They Met in Bombay is worth watching once.