Tuesday, January 3, 2012

At least they changed the names

If you watched much of William Powell's turn as TCM's Star of the Month back in December, you will probably have seen The Last of Mrs. Cheyney. It's a 1937 film in which Powell plays an elegant jewel thief who teams up with Joan Crawford, only to see her be pursued by Robert Montgomery. Hollywood has never been original, so it may not surprise you to know that the William Powell film is a remake of one from 1929, starring Norma Shearer in the Crawford role, and Basil Rathbone in the Montgomery role. In fact, both are versions of an earlier stage play, something that was relatively common in the early days of sound films -- they needed a lot of material back then, and this was stuff that already had pre-written dialogue.

What you might not know is that MGM made the movie a third time, in 1951, as The Law and the Lady, which you can see tomorrow morning at 11:15 AM on TCM. This time, the lady is played by Greer Garson, who really isn't right for the role. Michael Wilding is suitably dashing, but nothing spectacular, redoing the Powell role; and Fernando Lamas plays the Montgomery role. The location has also been moved from England to San Francisco in the days before the earthquake of 1906. (I doubt MGM still had any sets left over from San Francisco.) Perhaps the one highlight is Marjorie Main (Ma Kettle) as the woman Garson and friends are trying bilk.

No comments: