Sunday, April 6, 2014

Snowed Under

There are several interesting movies coming up in the next day or so, but there's one that I'd prefer to mention because it doesn't currently seem to be on DVD: Snowed Under, which is on TCM at 1:00 PM tomorrow (April 7).

George Brent plays Alan Tanner, a formerly successful playwright who has fallen on a bit of hard times. That is, he's got two acts of a play written, but he's unable to come up with a third act for that play. And that's a problem, since the play is supposed to open in a week's time! So Alan's agent gets a place out in the country for Alan to go for a weekend where he'll have the peace and quiet necessary to come up with that third act. Unbeknwonst to Alan, the agent is also sending somebody else to that cabin out in the country: Alan's first wife Alice (Genevieve Tobin). They had collaborated on his plays back when she was the first Mrs. Tanner, and that's how Alan became successful. Plus, she still holds a candle for Alan. So getting Alan to finish the play, and to spend some time with the first Mrs. Tanner, might not be a bad thing.

That's because there's a problem with the second Mrs. Tanner, Daisy (Glenda Farrell). That marriage hasn't been successful either, and it resulted in a divorce that required Alan to pay Daisy a substantial amount of alimony. But without any hit plays, Alan isn't able to scrouge up the money to make the alimony payments, and has fallen behind. Daisy wants those alimony payments, to the point that she's willing to have a court order enforced on her ex-husband. As if that's going to help Alan finish up the play. But, sure enouhg, Daisy shows up with the local sheriff's deputy Rowe (Frank McHugh), with that court order.

If you thought things were complicated for Alan before, they're about to get a whole lot more complicated. There's actually a third woman in the house, Pat (Patricia Ellis). She's supposed to be Alan's typist, but claims that she and Alan are engaged, and that she's going to become the third Mrs. Tanner. Having one woman after you is bad enough, but having three? Yikes. And there's still the matter of finishing that play.... As for the title, Snowed Under, it comes from the fact that a snowstorm is coming, threatening to strand everybody at each other's throats in that small cottage.

Thankfully, Snowed Under was conceived at Warner Bros. as a programmer for George Brent. He's not exactly the best comic actor out there, but was good at being the man whose purpose in the plot was to let the women around him (often Bette Davis) sturt their stuff. When it came to these shorter movies that were clearly designed to be second-billing to Warners' prestige films, though, Brent isn't that bad. (See a movie like Front Page Woman for an example.) And with the short running times, these movies don't wear out their welcome, being over quickly if you think they're going to drag. Snowed Under is nothing spectacular, but it's reasonably entertaining.

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