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Bachelor's Affairs  /  Society Girl

March 8, 2015 - 3:00 pm

Live musical accompaniment will be provided for the silent portion of this program by Cliff Retallick.

Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by The Packard Humanities Institute

Bachelor's Affairs  (1932)

Middle-aged playboy Andrew Hoyt, who had previously been a staunch bachelor, gets sucked into marrying a beautiful but vacuous young blond, after her older sister has expertly set the bait.  Realizing pretty quickly that he is not up to the vigorous physical activity demanded by his eager 20-something spouse, he conspires with his best friend and his loyal secretary to find a new plaything for the soon to be ex-wife.  Adolphe Menjou plays the self-centered playboy with his tongue delightfully deep in his cheek, knowingly riffing on his own previously established screen persona as the suave older lover, but unafraid to also exhibit the frailties of advancing age.  The scenes of the California honeymoon, during which the blond energizer bunny and the world-weary lounge lizard engage in ceaselessly healthy sports activity are particularly funny.  Joan Marsh looks like a carbon copy of Jean Harlow, only twice as dumb, a girl who just wants to have fun.  Meanwhile, Minna Gombell’s gold-digging older sister stage manages her younger sibling’s marital career, but can’t stave off disaster when the girl falls for some fresh young Latin eye candy in the shape of Don Alvarado as a rumba teacher.

Based on a play by James Forbes, Precious, that opened and closed on Broadway in January-February 1929, this unsentimental pre-Code film features some of the crispest and fastest-paced dialogue of any film coming out of Fox; indeed, its cynical tone and rhythm rivals anything produced at Warner Bros. in that period.

Joan Marsh started her career as a child star in 1915, but had only graduated to supporting roles from bit parts in 1931, when she was contracted to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; she appears here as a loan out to Fox.  Her performance earned her starring roles in subsequent films.  Director Alfred Werker not only keeps the action and dialogue going at lightning speed, he also manages to insert numerous bits of physical comedy, all of which made this film the hit of the Cinefest in Syracuse, when an unpreserved print was screened there last year.  —Jan-Christopher Horak

Director: Alfred L. Werker.  Production: Fox Film Corp.  Distribution: Fox Film Corp.  Producer: Edmund Grainger.  Screenwriters: Philp Kline, Leon Gordon.  Based on the play Precious by James Forbes.  Cinematographer: Norbert Brodine.  Art Direction: Max Parker.  Editor: Alfred deGaetano.  Music: George Lipschultz.  Cast: Adolphe Menjou, Minna Gombell, Arthur Pierson, Joan Marsh, Alan Dinehart.  35mm, b/w, 64 min.

Restored from a 35mm nitrate print.  Laboratory services by Film Technology Company, Inc., The Stanford Theatre Film Laboratory and Chace Audio by Deluxe.  Special thanks to: 20th Century Fox.

Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by 20th Century Fox

Society Girl  (1932)

Directed by Sidney Lanfield, Society Girl is a tale of middleweight boxing contender Johnny Malone (James Dunn), who falls for the high-class society girl Judy Gelett (Peggy Shannon) in Fox’s take on the short-lived Broadway play of the same name.  Johnny begins spending too much time with Judy, which distracts him from his training and leads to a rift with his manager Doc Briscoe, played by a still relatively unknown Spencer Tracy.  Briscoe fears that the society girl’s affections for Johnny are nothing more than a passing fancy.  Judy, however, has begun to develop real feelings for him, but plans to dump him anyway, fearing that her society friends would mock the unrefined boxer.  Seeing heartbroken Johnny quickly knocked out in the championship match, Judy changes her mind.

While Society Girl received mixed reviews from contemporary critics, Tracy’s performance consistently garnered praise.  Still relatively unknown at the time of Society Girl’s release, Tracy steals the show in the supporting role of Johnny’s manager.  Modern Screen states “the real acting laurels go to Spencer Tracy” and a review in the Los Angeles Times asserts, “Tracy is excellent as usual.”  Having started out as a theater actor in the 1920s, Tracy was signed to a contract by Fox Films in the early 1930s.  Despite positive critical reviews for his performances in many of his early films, including Society Girl, Tracy’s career would not flourish until he moved to MGM later in the decade.

This film is also notable for being the first to employ a “living stage.”  That is, an outdoor set made up of various varieties of flowers, trees and shrubs, enough bio-diversity to simulate the environment of a number of different locations.  Up until the “Garden of All Nations,” as the Fox Movietone City set was called, outdoor garden scenes required renting private gardens.  —Staci Hogsett

Director: Sidney Lanfield.  Production: Fox Film Corp.  Distribution: Fox Film Corp.  Screenwriter: Elmer Harris. Based on the play Society Girl by John Larkin Jr. and Charles Beahan.  Cinematographer: George Barnes.  Art Direction: Gordon Wiles.  Editor: Margaret Clancy.  Music: George Lipschultz.  Cast: James Dunn, Peggy Shannon, Spencer Tracy, Bert Hanlon, Walter Byron.  35mm, b/w, 73 min.

Restored from a 35mm nitrate print.  Laboratory services by YCM Laboratories, Audio Mechanics, DJ Audio, Simon Daniel Sound.  Special thanks to: Schawn Belston, Caitlin Robertson—20th Century Fox.

Preceded by

Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by The International Animated Film Society, ASIFA Hollywood and Mark Langer

Bed Time  (1922)

This Fleischer Brothers’ “Out of the Inkwell” short features Koko the Clown as an animated character who just won’t let his creator get to sleep.  Combining live action with animation via the Fleischers’ signature rotoscope technique, Bed Time is not only a hilarious descent into dream-logic, but a refreshing reminder of the achievements of handmade animation.  —Timoleon Wilkins

Director: Dave Fleischer.  Producer: Max Fleischer.  35mm, b/w, silent, approx. 10 min.

Laboratory services by The Cinemalab.  Special thanks to: Mark Kausler.