Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Their Own Desire

Norma Shearer's turn as Star of the Month on TCM continues tonight with her early talkies. One I don't think I've ever mentioned here before is Their Own Desire, at 2:15 AM.

Shearer plays Lally Marlett, the sort of twentysomething woman who populates early talkies like this: carefree and born to wealthy parents (Belle Bennett and Lewis Stone). Her life seems happy, until one day when Dad suddenly comes home and tells his family that after many years of marriage, he's running off to marry Mrs. Cheever (Helene Millard). Lally, unsurprisingly, blames Dad entirely and she and Mom write Dad out of their lives.

Lally goes on being part of the wealthy set, however, which is where she meets Jack (Robert Montgomery). The two falls in love, because really, what woman in an early talkie isn't going to fall for a dashing young Robert Montgomery, who seems to have been born to play roles like this? They love eatch other, but there's a minor problem. Well, not all that minor. It turns out that Jack is Mrs. Cheever's son. Mrs. Marlett, as you can probably guess, is horrified at the idea that her daughter might run off with the son of the woman who took Mr. Marlett away from her. It's illogical since the affair wasn't Jack's fault, but it's the way human nature works.

There are histrionics, and Lally runs away from Jack to be by her mother's side, but the love that she feels for him can't keep her away from Jack too long. So after Mom recovers from the shock, Lally runs back off and elopes with Jack. They'll live happily ever after. Except that when they take Jack's boat out on Lake Michigan, a storm comes up and strands them on an island. Everybody thinks they're lost if not at sea, then at least at lake.

Their Own Desire is one of those very typical, at least to my thinking, early talkies. Melodramatic, and looking at the idle rich as though everybody really cares about them. (I always find it interesting when an establishing shot uses the "society" column in a newspaper.) It's not a bad movie, however; it's just very dated. Shearer and Montgomery aren't quite as good as they'd be a year later in The Divorcée and The Big House respectively, but Shearer was already an established star and Montgomery shows how capable he was going to be at playing the society types he'd spend a lot of the 1930s doing. It's also fun to watch Judge Hardy being the bad guy.

I think Their Own Desire has been released by the Warner Archive, but for a short early talkie like this, it's a bit pricey.

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