Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ever Since Eve (1937)

I had heard of Marion Davies before, but only because she was a mistress to William Randolph Hearst for 30 years until his death. I had never actually seen her in a movie. When TCM showed some of her movies for their Summer Under the Stars series, I decided to record a few. I started with "Not So Dumb" actually, and almost wanted to turn it off. Her fakey voice and silly, annoying "I'm dumb, but cute, so love me" character really was a turn off. However, after talking to my movie mentor, he suggested I watch "Ever Since Eve" in all it's role-reversal glee to try to redeem my overall opinion of Marion Davies.

Marion Davies portrait "borrowed" from doctormacro1 and colored by someone named Brittany

Marge Winton (Marion Davies) is a gorgeous blond secretary who can't keep a job because her male bosses always put the moves on her and she inevitably gets fired when she turns them down. In order to keep a job, she comes up with a brilliant plan of dressing up in full-on frump so that her employers will focus on her skill and not on her appearance. All seems to go well until she is asked to work with a writer named Freddy Matthews (Robert Montgomery) and he eventually sees her without the plain Jane costume and falls in love. After that, mistaken identities, dance numbers and stick 'em ups abound!

This is one of the more improbable screwball comedies I have seen in a while. It starts out sane, but by the end it is so completely off-the-charts zany that you know you enjoyed yourself but wonder how on earth you got there. Marion Davies didn't have the crazy voice like she did in "Not So Dumb" and played a smart lady so I have now forgiven her for annoying me so the other day. Plus, she is cute as a button so I had already forgiven her a bit anyway, truth be told. If that wasn't enough, her romantic rival (Marcia Ralston) went to the school of Ethel Barrymore eye acting (continually narrowing and widening one's eyes to try to show emotion) so that alone makes Marion Davies look completely brilliant! Well done!

A huge bonus for me was seeing Robert Montgomery again. Speaking of forgiving, this one almost made me forgive him making me sit through "Lady in the Lake". Al-most. He is back to sweet "Mr & Mrs. Smith" charming fun and frivolity in this one. I also really enjoyed the supporting cast. Frank McHugh, Patsy Kelly and Barton MacLane help round out the film and provide a bit of a comedic foundation to allow the in-zanity.

This wasn't a great film, but it was definitely enjoyable and most importantly, entertaining. I definitely recommend checking this out if you happen to catch it on TCM sometime. It is worth the 80 minute investment.


kda0121 said...

I really like this one. This was Marion's final movie and although it may not have been boffo box office, it is a great swan song. Davies plays both characters to perfection and she is nearly unrecognizable in her "frumpy" look. Montgomery is his usual cool self in an entertaining romantic comedy.

AbbyNormal said...

I look forward to seeing some of her other movies now. My jaw dropped when she walked out as her "frumpy" self. I couldn't believe it was the same person!!!

Jennythenipper said...

This was my introduction to Davies and I'm glad. I thought she was very good in it. She created a portrait of a complete person that is so often missing in comedies, that can tend toward caricature, rather than character.

I look forward to seeing at least Blondie of the Follies and Operator 13. (Which I stupidly deleted due to TIVO disaster).

AbbyNormal said...

Good call to avoid "Not So Dumb" Jenny. I was so put off by Davies that I started deleting her movies off the DVR and almost deleted them all out of disgust! "Ever Since Eve" was quite good - I couldn't believe it was the same actress. That movie definitely redeemed her.

To be fair though, I guess almost any actor/actress has a stinker or two in their closet and if you happen to start with the stinker, they ALL look like a dreadful waste of film.