Four-Star Bumper Pool at MGM
|Note Ad Emphasis on Loy's "Hollywood Queen" Status|
Romance Less Than Ribald in Man-Proof (1937)
Here was brilliance of light Metro melodramas: they could ponder "moral" issues within framework of utter fantasy and make us imagine it somehow represented real-life. What might we do in Myrna Loy or Walter Pidgeon's place? That discussion was what propelled friends of patronage to look in, and others to return with company to delve deeper. There was artistry in telling a same story over and again, so long as attractive casts revolved efficiently. Put Myrna Loy in this year's model, then let it be Crawford for a next season's rehash. Woman marries man another woman covets, temptation to stray is ultimately overcome as a right partner patiently awaits, mere gender switch sufficient to freshen the formula for next time. Abiding friend in this case is yet again Franchot Tone, but it could as readily be Robert Montgomery, Robert Young, or even Clark Gable. That's how adaptable the blueprint was.
I point this up not to ridicule, but admire. Man-Proof is likeable for knowing its public and how to please. The fact it did so seventy-eight years ago, but won't necessarily again is no reflect on genius of a system that brought Man-Proof one million in worldwide rentals (against negative cost of $513K). All but a handful of 30's output dates, most in fact date badly, except for those of us who celebrate antiquity. I'm increasingly into joy of dialogue and situations that retreat further toward irrelevance, entertainment of the 20th century becoming more akin to that of the 19th rather than our 21st. Man-Proof was Code-cleansed in a fourth year of strict enforcement, taking characters further beyond realm of identifiable human behavior. It worked because beautiful people weren't like you or I in any event, so to act/react in irrational fashion came as no surprise, and was, in fact, expected, all the more so as viewer instinct got hep to censor regulation and limits that imposed. Man-Proof harks nicely to crowded loges of Loew housing where a right cast walked thinnest wire for a public grateful to watch them do it (acknowledged perk of loge seating: folks could neck there to less visibility of staff and other patrons, a big reason why tickets for the section cost more). Man-Proof is just out from Warner Archive on DVD.