Saturday, January 11, 2014

Yet another movie where we know the two leads are going to wind up together in the last reel

Earlier this week, I've mentioned a couple of movies where you just know the two stars are going to reunite at the end, despite all the romantic complications they face earlier on in the movie. There's another one coming up on TCM. This time, though, the movie is from Britain, and in early three-strip Technicolor: Over the Moon, at 10:30 AM tomorrow.

Young Merle Oberon plays June Benson. She plays the granddaughter of an elderly nobleman who at the beginning of the movie is dying in his estate house that looks as though it's seen better days: Jane has no idea how she's going to keep the place going once her grandfather finally dies. His doctor, Freddie Jarvis (Rex Harrison), has a good idea: marry him! He loves her, and she does like him, but there's also the problem of all the servants and what to do with the estate. And then the old guy finally dies. It turns out that the reason the estate didn't seem to be in such great shape is that Grandfather was a miser. During his life he saved up a princely £18 million, which is in late-1930s currency and so would probably be in the middle nine-figures range today, even in pounds, never mind the conversion rate to dollars. Any way you look at it, it's a substantial sum of money.

With all that money comes the possibility that Jane can finally live a life of comfort. More comfort than Jane could ever have living off of a doctor's salary. Also, her large inheritance has made national news, so there are lots of people who, wanting to live in comfort themselves, claim to be either distant relatives or some sort of suitor. Dr. Jarvis has principles, and one of those is apparently not being wealthy through a wife's inheritance. Either that, or money has just changed her to the point that he doesn't like her as she now is. Freddie's received an offer to do research at a clinic in Switzerland, so he takes that offer, and leaves Jane to her money.

Jane goes off to France and eventually to Monte Carlo, and it's at this point where the movie begins to go off the rails. We know that Jane and Freddie are ultimately meant for each other, and that they're supposed to end up together, but it takes Jane seemingly much too long to realize this, and the movie seems to run too slowly from here to the reunion. Freddie, for his part, finds that he's gotten into something he didn't bargain for, doctoring at a chic clinic for the rich, much like the work Robert Donat was doing in The Citadel, which was made after Over the Moon but released before.

Merle Oberon and Rex Harrison both try hard, but I think that in the end, the material really sinks them, making the movie a muddled plodding mess that I actually found a bit difficult to sit through even though it only runs about 80 minutes. It didn't help either that the print wasn't the best. If you want early British color, I'd really recommend starting off with The Divorce of Lady X instead.

I couldn't find any DVD release of Over the Moon, so you'll have to catch the TCM showing, which isn't very often.

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