Friday, September 29, 2006

"I Loved a Woman" (1933)

In director Alfred E. Green’s I Loved a Woman (1933), a moralistic period piece set at the close of the 19th century, Edward G. Robinson is the young, idealistic president of a meat canning company who is seduced by the ambitious opera singer Kay Francis. Under her influence, Robinson not only cheats on his philanthropist wife (Genevieve Tobin), but also tosses his ideals to the wind and starts canning “impure” meat which, according to the headlines, results in more deaths in the Spanish-American War than bullets. A grand jury indictment forces Robinson, in his old age, to flee to Greece sans wife, mistress, and canned beef. An unusual story that is less socially conscious that it would like to admit. Any peculiarities to the story are made up for by conventional formula and predictable outcome. The script is less inspired than required—and you can say the same about the acting and directing. Two things of note in this picture, the first of which is a piece of wisdom from a board member: “There isn’t so much difference between a Rembrandt and a pork packer.” The second: Key Francis singing “Home on the Range” ala Maria Callas, whilst Robinson’s eyes float toward the heavens and his mouth towards the floor.

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