Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dramatic School (1938)


“I’m not ambitious enough to be an angel. I don’t like wings.”

            In my readings about actors and singers I have come across some that attended a sort of academy or school for their talents. I cannot help but wonder what going to school for acting or singing is like. Hell, I wish I was talented to go to a performing arts school! MGM’s 1938 film Dramatic School gives an overdramatic view of what goes on at an acting academy.
            Louise (Luise Rainer) is a young woman studying at an acting school in France. Everyone thinks she is talented but the teachers do not seem to take much notice. All the girls at the school go out at night including Louise but none of the other girls knows where she goes. Louise works in a factory to make enough money to be able to go to school. A famous actress comes to the factory one night to research for a new role she is to play.
            The next day Nana (Paulette Goddard) is upset because Fleury, the guy she likes, has to do a love scene with the acting teacher. Louise calls Nana out saying she acts around Fleury. Nana does not even stand up when the teacher asks who wants to play Juliet to Fluery’s Romeo. The teacher picks Louise. The teacher feels Louise’s acting in the scene is too serious. She goes to show Louise how to play the scene and when she turns around Louise has accidentally fallen asleep. The teacher thinks Louise does not like being in the school. After class Louise lies to the girls telling them she got two hours of sleep the night before because she was with a Marquise named Andre. She tells them how she went to his apartment and how Andre gives her clothes. When she completes her story she turns to the girls and asks them “Am I not the greatest actress for not telling the truth?”. By that she means for not telling the truth about going out with Andre. One of the girls tells Andre about Louise.
            The teacher’s manger calls the school so he can meet Louise. The manager wants to give Louise a job but she refuses it because she does not want to be a review actress. She is a dramatic actress. The manager also wants her to talk to Andre about getting him to back the show. Nana meets Andre while out on a date. She asks Andre about Louise. He has never heard of her before. The next day Nana tells all the girls that Louise lied to them. Nana plans a party at her boyfriend’s house. She plans to catch Louise in her lie by inviting her to the party. Louise goes to the party. Andre shows up and makes like they are really seeing each other. By the end of the night they are in completely in love with each other.
            Some weeks later Andre and Louise are out at a club. Andre barely pays any attention to Louise especially when a Spanish dancer comes on stage. Andre dumps her. Louise gives all her clothes to the girls at school. She gives Nana the letter Andre wrote to her to break things off because Nana had warned Louise about him.
            Louise gets the lead part in the National Theater as Joan of Arch. After the show Nana is so proud of Louise she cries. Andre goes to see Louise in her dressing room after the show. He admits he did not see the show. Louise tells Andre she owes all her success to the hurt he caused her.
            Luise Rainer in the lead role was a bad choice. I cannot understand for the life of me how MGM made her a top actress and how she won two Academy Awards back to back she was awful. I have seen Rainer in two other films and I thought he was terrible in those. She beat out Irene Dunne and Carole Lombard in their most famous film roles. Trust me the woman did not deserve to win I do not know what the Academy members were smoking the two years she won. Rainer is so wooden and stiff and was repeating her lines not acting them. Paulette Goddard gets second billing even though she is barely in the film. I have yet to see Paulette Goddard in a bad role. I adore watching her in films because she just put everything into her acting. Goddard in no way could have played the lead part she was not a dramatic actress, she was perfect in her role as a mean girl. Lana Turner plays one of the students. She was so damn adorable.

            Dramatic School is a 1930s MGM melodrama. Some of their melodramas were great and some of them leave you saying what the hell were they thinking making this film. Dramatic School does not fall in the what-hell-were-they-thinking category it falls somewhere in between. Watch Dramatic School for Paulette Goddard and Lana Turner and that is all.