Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Jewel Robbery (1932)

“They are silly to expect a woman to tell the truth about what happened when she was alone with a man!” 

            Let me start off by saying that if Jewel Robbery ever comes out on DVD I am buying it right away. It is a very entertaining and well done Pre-Code film with a fun plot and rowdy characters always on the prowl looking for a good time.
            Baroness Teri (Kay Francis), her friends, and her husband are in a jewelry store. She wants her husband to buy her a very beautiful diamond ring. The Baron thinks the ring could be bought for less so he speaks with the owner of the store. As the Baron is speaking with the owner a few men come strolling into the store. The men turn out to be robbers lead by a very suave and classy man (William Powell, who throughout the film is just simply known as “The Robber”). Teri is thrilled that something exciting is happening she is so bored with her life.
            The Robber and his group swiftly go through the store and he even manages to completely outsmart an officer that had been hired by a protection agency. He gets everyone to listen to him except for Teri. She refuses to go into the safe with her husband and friends. Teri sees The Robber as a romantic figure she is so taken with him, his charms, and his intelligence for what he has done. Teri’s attraction does not go unnoticed by him. Police sirens and alarms can now be heard. The Robber and his crew take everything they can get their hands on including Teri’s new ring which she puts up a fight for. The robbers get out before the police show up.
            That night as Teri is getting ready for bed she notices someone by her window. When she checks it is The Robber. At first she is a bit frightened but then totally excited. He has come to give her ring back he felt bad for taking it seeing how much she loved it. He proposes that he stays at her house for the night since her room and her house is the last place they would look for him. Teri is a little flustered over the idea but she does not completely object. There is a knock at the door and someone identifying himself as the police and he wants to check Teri’s room. The officer looks around the room and finds the jewels The Robber has left in Teri’s safe. Both of them are caught and brought in….
            …. Well not exactly, The Robber set up the whole scheme with some of his men to get Teri over to his apartment. He seduces her quite nicely and is very much the gentleman. He shows her all the jewels he has stolen and says it is because he is very taken with her. Teri cannot believe all the jewels and valuables he has in possession. When The Robber turns his back she steals some of his jewels. Before she can get downstairs and out the door the real police come running in. Teri runs back to The Robber to warn him. He makes it seem as if he kidnapped her by tying her up. He tells her he is running away to the south of France and to meet him there. The Robber and some of his men manage to cleverly evade police capture again by climbing the roofs and getting away in a police care. When Teri’s friends and husband find her she pretends to be distraught and tells them that she needs to get away because of her nerves that the south of France will do very nicely.
            Now I know I always go on and on about how great the Pre-Codes I have seen are but believe me when I honestly say this is the best Pre-Code I have seen so far and Jewel Robbery is one of the absolute best examples of the genre. I would not be surprised if this film was one of the main reasons the Code was enforced to heavily it was so risqué. I do not even know what scene to explain first because once William Powell walks on scene the whole film is just drenched with charm and sexuality. There is the scene when Powell goes to Kay Francis’ place and says that he wants to sleep with her for the night. When he gets her to his place one of the other robbers moves a curtain back revealing Powell’s bed and Powell responds that dinner is first but then throws Francis on the bed.
            Possibly the best Pre-Code aspect of this film is that Powell gives the store owner and the security agent marijuana cigarettes. He just gave the men a joint like he was handing someone a normal cigarette it was great! I watched this film on TCM with Robert Osborne introducing and ending the film. Osborne said that when the film was released people wrote into Warner Bros.  not criticizing the film but asking where they could some marijuana!
            William Powell was outrageously charming. I kept thinking to myself the whole time how bad I want to meet a man like him and his characters haha. If I were Kay Francis’ character in the film I would have been very excited and completely taken by Powell as well. As the audience we are so taken with The Robber we instantly forgive him for holding up the store; he disarms Teri as well as the audience with his charms. He was so amazing playing those types of characters, he makes me wish that someday I can meet a guy like him (ugh I am such a girl!!!). His character here makes me wish that The Thin Man was made in the Pre-Code era because I can imagine Nick Charles being a like The Robber but not as serious.
            Kay Francis was alright. She is not my favorite leading lady but she worked well with William Powell (they made quite a few films together). She played her character’s longing and want of excitement well she was believable. That is as much as I can say about her she did not strike any chord with me good or bad.
            Jewel Robbery is one of the Pre-Codes that I have seen where I want to scream “damn the Code!!!”.  Everything about this film was great. William Powell and Kay Francis had great chemistry (it is so odd for me to see Powell with great chemistry with any other leading lady besides Myrna Loy but he is such a great actor he could have had chemistry with a cup) which makes me want to see more of their films together. The story was so much fun and very entertaining. Jewel Robbery at the moment is unfortunately unavailable on DVD or to view on Youtube. If TCM airs the film again absolutely watch it no matter if you are a William Powell or Kay Francis fan or just a film fan. 

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