Sometime, one just needs to take a little step back in time and watch a Classical Hollywood film. What do I mean by Classical? Well, the plot is rather simple (yet entertaining), everything is in a chronological order, and the narrative is tied up nicely at the end, meaning the man gets the woman and all conflicts are resolved. Now, the difficultly with these types of films produced between the early 1930s to late 1950s, is being able to weed out the gems from the duds. This task also comes down to narrative preference and can most of the time be persuaded by the star of the film. Most people will probably be willing to sit down and watch a Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Marylin Monroe, or Greta Garbo film, but the work of celebrities from this era who do not have a myth surrounding them in our modern popular culture suffer a bit. That aside, I have discovered a delightful old cinema classic, starring actors that I was not too familiar with, and that I think many of you will enjoy.
Ever Since Eve is a romantic-comedy from 1937 directed by Lloyd Bacon, who is most well-known for his incredibly musical 42nd Street (another recommendation). The film stars Robert Montgomery and silent cinema darling Marion Davies, marking her final silver screen role. What a way to be cinematically introduced to a legend, as I truly enjoyed her performance as Marge Winton, a beautiful woman who struggles maintaining a job due to her physical appeal and her frustration with the string of bosses that do not take her seriously. In an attempt to regain some pride and respect in the work environment, Marge decides to alter her appearance. This is probably one of the most successful changes I have seen, considering all that was used were a large pair of glasses, an unflattering brown wig, and an over-sized frumpy suit. Her transformation cannot be compared to Rachel Leigh Cook in the 1999 film She’s All That where miraculously her transformation from down and out high school student to eye-catching seductress happens simply with the removal of her glasses and styling her brown hair, but all the same it is still entertaining. I really felt that Marion Davies owned this harsh look and sold it brilliantly. This was how I was introduced to her, missing the first bit of the movie, and I was eager to wait it out to see what she actually looked like.
The dilemma of the film begins when she gets a job as the writing secretary to an author, Freddy, played by Robert Montgomery. One night, he goes to disheveled Marge’s apartment to discuss business, only to find a blonde and vivacious Marge answering the door. She said her name is Sadie and he falls in love with her instantly (another Classical ploy). The rest is simple. There is the dual difficulty of trying to be Marion as well as Sadie, while mixing information that Freddy told one, but not the other, or the fact that the two women never appeared in the same room at the same time. What I can say is that even though the narrative is simple, cliché, and really hates on brown hair and glasses, it is a light romance that will leave you feeling truly content.
Unfortunately, the myth of Marion Davies is tied up with her thirty-two year relationship with newspaper mogul, William Randolph Hearst, resulting in her work kind of being over-shadowed. It does not matter what era you live in, celebrity culture and our obsession with their social lives interrupts our ability to enjoy their movies (maybe relatable to has-been Lindsay Lohan?).