Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Up in Mabel's Room

Nella camera di Mabel. US © 1944 Edward Small Productions. D: Allan Dwan. Dall'opera teatrale omonima di Otto A. Harbach e Wilson Collison. SC: Tom Reed. DP: Charles Lawton. ED: Richard Heermance, Grant Whytock. AD: Joseph Sternad. M:  Michel Michelet. C: Marjorie Reynolds (Geraldine Ainsworth), Dennis O'Keefe (Gary Ainsworth), Gail Patrick (Mabel Essington), Mischa Auer (Boris), Charlotte Greenwood  (Martha), Lee Bowman (Arthur Weldon), John Hubbard (Jimmy Larchmont), Binnie Barnes (Alicia Larchmont), Janet Lambert (Priscilla), Fred Kohler Jr. (Johnny). P: Edward Small per Small Productions. Premiere: 7 aprile 1944. 35 mm. 76'. B&w. Da: Library of Congress. Cinema Jolly, Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, e-subtitles in Italian, 2 July 2013

Dave Kehr: "Based on a 1919 Broadway play by Otto Harbach and Wilson Collison, Up in Mabel's Room was the first of three highly successful adaptations of classic farces directed by Dwan for the independent producer Edward Small. Dwan told Peter Bogdanovich that these fast paced, mildly risqué comedies were his contribution to the war effort - pure escapism meant to distract the public from the anxieties of the moment - but as the prologue to Up in Mabel's Room advises, "Warning! In spite of anything you may have heard to the contrary, this is a war picture! It takes great courage to bomb Berlin - to fight the Japs in the jungles of the Pacific - to push the Nazis out of Africa and off the Mountains of Italy. But did you ever try to keep a secret from your wife? Brother, that's war!" The war in this case, however, is less between a scatterbrained, increasingly frantic husband (Dennis O'Keefe) and his possessive, childish wife (Marjorie Reynolds), than between the wife and the husband's old flame, a far more mature, self-confident, independent and all-around Dwanian female played by the coolly intelligent Gail Patrick (in the first of her five performances for Dwan). This central triangle is complicated by the dense network of relationships - familial, friendly, and professional - that typically surrounds Dwan's characters. Much of the action takes place in a country house belong to the sister (Charlotte Greenwood) of Patrick's fiancé (Lee Bowman), where the principals are joined by a squabbling older couple (Binnie Barnes and John Hubbard). Stuffed with the knickknacks, wall-hangings, and oversized furniture that characterizes Dwan's cluttered interiors, the country home becomes another complex, treacherous space to be negotiated by Dwan's hyperkinetic protagonists." Dave Kehr

A breathless bedroom farce which culminates in the country house where the relationships of three couple seem on the verge of collapse at the slightest doubt of some extraneous flirting. It is well made and there are many funny exchanges of dialogue, but it is so relentless that it gets a little tiresome to my taste. Allan Dwan directed this as a professional, but perhaps his heart was not fully in it.

The print is fine after some scratches at the start.

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