Showing posts with label Loretta Young. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Loretta Young. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

I Like Your Nerve (1931)

I Like Your Nerve (1931) title card

"Why must you always be so unsociable in motor cars?"

Rich people behaving badly always makes for good comedy. The Pre-Code I Like Your Nerve (1931) stars Douglas Fairbanks Jr. as Larry O'Brien, an American causing mayhem in Central America. He gets booted out by the local authorities but decides to stay when he spies the beautiful young Diane Forsythe (Loretta Young). They have a brief meet-cute moment before she's off. Once he finds out she's American and not a local, he sets his sights on her. Diane likes the look of Larry, and his nerve!, but she's already spoken for. Her step-father Areal Pacheco (Henry Kolker), is the Minister of Finance for the unnamed Central American country, he's set her up with middle-aged businessman Clive Lattimer (Edmund Breon). Pacheco has been dipping into government funds and Lattimer's $200k would help him avoid the fate of the previous Ministers of Finance which have all been killed for their corruption. Meanwhile, up-to-no-good Larry gets bailed out of jail by his "eternal bachelor" friend Archie Lester (Claud Allister) and sets off to break up Diane and her fiancee. Can he win Diane's affections and save her step-father from the firing squad? Not without some hilarious antics and trickery.

Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in I Like Your Nerve (1931)

Loretta Young in I Like Your Nerve (1931)

Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in I Like Your Nerve (1931)

Loretta Young in I Like Your Nerve (1931)

I Like Your Nerve was directed by William C. McGann for First National Pictures. That studio had been absorbed by Warner Bros. but was still making pictures under that name. McGann had a career directing B pictures and went on to work as a cinematographer and special effects technician. The story is based on an original idea by Roland Pertwee and adapted by Houston Branch. Boris Karloff is in the film but has a dreadfully small and rather useless role as Luigi, the butler for the Pacheco mansion.

I love really early talkies and can forgive some of the clunkiness of the final product. The film industry was still trying to work out the kinks of their transition from silents to talkies. Some people are turned off by this by I find it quite charming. I was even amused by the choice of music which often times didn't even match what was going on in the story.

Technically I Like Your Nerve is not complete. According to the AFI:

"Contemporary reviews describe an opening scene that was not in the viewed film. In this scene, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. is a spectacled bookworm with a straight-laced mother who goes to the tropics when a fortune-teller advises him to travel to Central America."

This may explain why the beginning of the film seems so abrupt. However, it also feels out of character for Larry who is more playboy than bookworm. Unless the fortune-teller encounter somehow transformed him.

I Like Your Nerve is more silly comedy than racy Pre-Code. The stars Loretta Young and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. are delightful in this frothy, cheesy romp. I generally don't care for Loretta Young except for in her early films. Cars play an important role in the film. They are harbingers of chaos but also a means for the couple to be together. I love vintage cars and enjoyed watching these early models zipping through different scenes.

The film is only 62 minutes long and if you want a palate cleanser after a long or difficult movie, this would be a good fit. It's a bit backwards, a bit sexist and the Central American setting (why couldn't they have picked a country?) is more a plot device than anything substantial. It's just a fun movie that you shouldn't take too seriously.

I Like Your Nerve (1931) is available on DVD-MOD from the Warner Archive Collection. You can listen to George Feltenstein, D.W. Ferranti and Matt Patterson of WAC discuss this film on their podcast. D.W. calls this film "bonkers" and Matt calls Fairbanks Jr. "anarchy in an automobile". Both are statements I heartily agree with.

Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. Thank you to Warner Archive for sending me a copy of I Like Your Nerve (1931) to review!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Warner Archive Wednesday ~ Forbidden Hollywood Collection Volume 7

The seventh set in the popular Forbidden Hollywood Collection is a true gem. All four films, on 4 MOD-DVD discs, are rife with all the sins that make Pre-Codes so enjoyable to watch.

I started to do something recently that I have been wanting to do for a very long time: watch Pre-Codes every morning. It sounds like a silly ritual and I blame it all on TCM's influence. I had TCM for years before I moved out on my own and couldn't afford cable anymore (I got it back last year). I had become used to waking up early in the morning, turning on TCM and watching about 20-30 minutes of whatever early 1930s film was showing. It became a habit and for years afterwards I had always craved Pre-Codes in the morning. The only bad part about this was that I would want to watch the entire film but didn't have the time. I would either rent it or buy it later but that didn't always work because many of the films weren't available on DVD. Now that I own numerous Pre-Codes, including several of the Forbidden Hollywood Collection sets, I decided that I would pop in a DVD in the morning and watch 30 minutes of a Pre-Code. I know it seems like such a weird thing but this new morning ritual makes me so happy and gives me a nice start to my day. If I have time, I watch the entire film in the morning if I can. I started this new ritual with the seventh set in the Forbidden Hollywood Collection and I had so much fun that I hope to stick with it.

Now on to the films...

The Hatchet Man (1932) - This curio from First National stars Edward G. Robinson and Loretta Young. They are both made to look Asian and Loretta Young is almost unrecognizable in "yellow face". The story takes place in San Francisco's Chinatown and explores the conflict between old Chinese traditions and the modern sensibilities of 1930s America. Edward G. Robinson plays Wong Low Get, a Hatchet Man who acts as an executioner for the different Tongs in Chinatown. Whenever a crime is committed, he executes the criminal with his hatchet. He has to kill his best friend but before he does he makes a promise to take care of his daughter Sun Toya San (Loretta Young). There is romance, adultery, betrayal and violence in this rather disturbing movie. It's the slowest of the four films in the set and probably the most odd but worth watching.

Skyscrapers Souls (1932) - This is the first of the two Warren William films in this set, this Pre-Code looks at the lives of the people who work in a New York City skyscraper. All the action happens inside the building. The conceit works really well and made for a very enjoyable and clever little film. Warren William is despicable as the womanizing executive who is hell bent on owning the entire building. That skyscraper is his life, he lives, breathes, eats, works and sleeps in it. He's having an affair with his secretary Sarah (Verree Teasdale), funds his wife's (Hedda Hopper) adventures to keep her out of his sight but isn't satisfied until he gets his hands on his secretary's secretary Lynn (Maureen O'Sullivan) who happens to be having a romance with bank teller Tom (Norman Foster). That is quite a romantic entanglement! Anita Page is also in the film but has a very minor role. She receives good billing and I don't think she was utilized well. It's an enjoyable film with a rather serious ending.

Employees' Entrance (1933) - Warren William is back to his old antics in this film (well not really, in real life he was a very nice guy!). William plays Kurt Anderson, a tough executive who runs a department store with an iron fist. He has no compassion for anyone except for those who are willing to sacrifice everything, even happiness, in the name of business. Alice White plays Polly, a fashion model who Kurt hires on the side to be a romantic distraction to a busy-body executive. Kurt himself has his eye on another fashion model, Madeline, played by Loretta Young. He lures her into bed only to abandon her shortly after. When Madeline marries the boss' right-hand-man Martin West (Wallace Ford), they have to keep it a secret. Things get really messy when sex, booze and money get involved! If anyone tells you that they think old movies are tame, show them this film! In fact, sit them down and show them several Pre-Codes. 

Dog lovers may not care for one particular scene in the film. Consider yourself warned.

Ex-Lady (1933) - I know that Bette Davis used to make fun of her early movies and this one is considered to be one of her flops. I have always disagreed with Bette Davis though and her early pictures are my favorites. In my honest opinion, this one is the best of the set. I enjoyed it so much and  the story really resonated with me. It doesn't try to shock like other Pre-Codes do. Instead it takes an honest look at romantic relationships and marriage. Bette Davis plays Helen, a very accomplished artist whose illustrations are highly sought after. She's an independent woman and in charge of her own life and career. Gene Raymond plays Don, an advertiser and Helen's beau. Helen doesn't want to get married so instead Don sneaks in to her apartment and sleeps over regularly. Helen's parents find out and they feel pressure to marry but Helen fights it every step of the way. I could go on but this film is so good that I hope to devote an entire post to it. This film most likely flopped because it took an honest look at relationships instead of romanticizing the marriage ideal. That kind of truth doesn't make for popular entertainment. Everyone wants the fantasy, not the reality. This film is a new favorite indeed!

Forbidden Hollywood Collection: Volume 7 is available on DVD MOD from Warner Archive.

Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. I received Forbidden Hollywood Collection Volume 7 from Warner Archive for review.

Popular Posts

 Twitter   Instagram   Facebook