Saturday, January 18, 2020

Strange Marriage (1932)

Right from the start, STRANGE MARRIAGE is surprisingly frank in its plot, beginning with a scene where a young prostitute who has been arrested on a street corner is defending herself to the night court judge, explaining that she was waiting for a date. A wealthy young idler who has wandered into the courtroom gallantly comes to her rescue by posing as the man she was supposedly waiting for, thus confirming her story. The judge is not convinced until the two agree to get married right then and there in his court.

The marriage falls apart when the girl learns that the man will not receive his inheritance unless the marriage is annulled. He, in turn, is led to believe she was only after his money. However, the girl learns that she is pregnant with their child, and struggles to raise the child on her own, until the situation is finally cleared up and the couple is reunited.

This one was especially interesting for a performance by Jason Robards Sr., a fine actor who was never really used to full advantage in the movies. Evelyn Knapp and Walter Byron are charming leads, and the great silent comedienne Marie Prevost has a nice role as Knapp's tough-talking best friend. The production was filmed at Universal Studios by an independent company, and the look of the film is marked by the characteristic sparseness of Universal's productions. I'd recently watched another independent production, FUGITIVE ROAD (1934), starring Erich von Stroheim, that had been filmed on the Universal lot by arrangement with the studio. They must have leased out space to bring in extra money during those lean years of the Depression.

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