Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Man of the World

Another of my recent DVD purchases was the ultra-cheap Carole Lombard Glamour Collection, a box set of six movies on two double-sided DVDs. (I said it was cheap; no extras as far as I can tell.) The first of the movies I watched off it was Man of the World.

The movie is old enough that Lombard isn't the star; that honor goes to William Powell who would become Lombard's future husband. He's seen in the opening scene walking along a Paris boulevard, where he's stopped by an American abroad asking him, "I remember you! Aren't you so-and-so?" Powell insists that no, he's actually Michael Trevor, and not this other guy. And Michael actually has the identification papers to prove who he is. But the exchange foreshadows that Michael Trevor isn't all he's cracked up to be.

The next scene confirms it, or should to anybody with normal intelligence, that Michael isn't the best of people. He meets with another American abroad, Harry Taylor (Guy Kibbee). Apparently, Michael knows of a scandal sheet in Paris that prints stuff about Americans for the benefit of those Americans living in the city. They have some information on Harry that Harry wouldn't want to see in print, and Michael can fix it with the publisher that the story won't get printed. It's just going to take a tidy sum of money.

Any sane person would recognize that this is blackmail, and unsurprisingly, we later learn that Michael is one of the publishers of the scandal sheet. Harry seems too stupid to understand this, however. Not yet related, Harry is in Paris with his niece Mary (that's Carole Lombard), who is engaged to Frank (Lawrence Gray). She's lovely, and interested in learning a bit more about Paris from Michael.

Michael, meanwhile, isn't alone at the scandal sheet. He's got two partners in crime in Irene (Wynne Gibson) and Fred (George Chandler). They find out about Mary, and they want Harry to con her, because there's much more money in conning a young woman than in conning her fiftysomething uncle. Michael doesn't want to do it, but eventually does, only to find himself falling in love with her.

Man of the World is in many ways predictable, at least up until the last reel. I don't know if it's fair to call the movie formulaic if only because it was early enough that this was before there would have been a formula to follow. Still, the movie meanders slowly before getting to its destination, which I found a bit of a problem. It just doesn't sparkle the way many of the other early 30s movies about con artists; it feels a bit flat. All of the actors do a professional job, so I'm not quite certain why everything feels a bit off.

Having said that, though, the movie is one of six on a cheap box set. If you don't care for this one, you're probably going to like at least another of the six.

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