quiet_curiosity: (Blergh)
quiet_curiosity ([personal profile] quiet_curiosity) wrote2011-10-16 02:02 pm

West of Broadway (1931)

Summary: Jerry Seevers comes back from WWI injured physically (doctors offer him a bleak long-term prognosis) and emotionally (his fiancee gets cold feet). And so he decides to spend his last few months drinking and bonding with escorts. He hits it off with one of these women and, on a particularly drunken night, decides to marry her. The light of day shows him what a horrible idea that was and he tries to convince her to annul. She loves him and refuses to do so. He flees out to the family ranch in Arizona. She is right on his tail, ready to make this marriage work.

Starring: John Gilbert, Lois Moran, El Brindel, Ralph Bellamy, Madge Evans, Frank Conroy, Hedda Hopper, Willie Fung
Directed by: Harry Beaumont

Viewed Via: TCM/DVR
Current Commercial Availability: Unavailable

1) In the biography for her father, Leatrice Gilbert Fountain quotes a bit of the World-Telegram's review for this film. It was written that "Mr. Gilbert is good in the role and does much to overcome the deficiencies of what is laughable to refer to as a plot". This should begin to give you some idea of what I finally summoned up my courage to sit through this morning.

Is Gilbert good in this? As good as he could be. It's just a sad role. This character is rock bottom in so many ways. His wallowing in alcoholism doesn't help and today reads as very autobiographical. And, yes, his voice sounds great.

2) Lois Moran is actually fine and has some chemistry with Gilbert. The character just makes no sense. It's not that she needs to be this bitchy gold-digger, but I couldn't quite grasp why she felt the need to stick by Gilbert's character. You've hit it off with him: great!. But he marries you after drinking way too much. The next morning, he comes to you, with the visible shakes, and says this was a mistake and you two need to part ways. You'd think that someone who was previously portrayed as having some street smarts would realize that it's not going to work out and it would be best to take the money. You may love him but Mr. DTs isn't giving up booze for you.

3) This is an early Ralph Bellamy role. He's ok but he's barely in this. For a moment, he's almost set up as a rival for the lady's affection, but Gilbert's character basically laughs at him and he goes away. There may have been more but my second-hand embarrassment was really kicking in by this part so I may have been covering my eyes and ears at the time.

4) I hate El Brendel. I've never seen him anything else (that I can remember), but I'm sure I'd hate him there too. His mush-mouthed Swedish character is embarrassing and annoying. And don't get me started on the weird extended scene between him and Willie Fung. It's not funny, just bizarre.

5) So, in the end, the divorce is granted but then Jerry realizes that he really does love her. He goes all the way back to NYC, gets in a fight with one of her customers, and declares his yearning to get back with her during the arraignment hearing. And then they get back together. YAY, except not. Do I understand how we get to this point? No. Do I care? No.

Should you see this movie? No. It would help you understand the kind of parts that aided in the destruction of John Gilbert's career, but you'd be better off just hearing about how much it sucked than actually witnessing it for yourself.