Tuesday, August 7, 2018


Just before the start of Summer Under the Stars, TCM ran a morning and afternoon of pre-Codes. One of them was Faithless, which sounded awfully familiar although I'd never done a full-length post on it before, at least according to a search of the site.

Tallulah Bankhead plays Carol Morgan, a trust fund baby in 1932, which for those of you who know your history you know is deep in the heart of the Depression. Don't worry if you don't know your history; the film makes very clear there's a depression on in the opening montage. Carol, having that trust fund, believes herself immune to the Depression and spends profligately because she wants to have an enjoyable time in life.

One day, Carol meets Bill Wade (Robert Montgomery), who isn't quite in Carol's social class although he earns the princely sum of $20,000 a year in the advertising business, which was quite a bit in the early 1930s when you consider that Jim Blandings in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House 15 years later was upper-middle class and only pulling down $15,000 a year. But Bill still knows he's got a lot less money than Carol, and he's insistent about living on his money, not hers, which is why they have an on-again, off-again relationship.

But Carol keeps spending like there's no tomorrow, and sure enough, tomorrow comes. The administrators of her trust tell her that her father put the money in the trust in stocks instead of government bonds back in 1929, so she's wiped out too, and she's borrowed to the hilt against the her assets. She decides that now would be a good time to go marry Bill and live on his money, since she doesn't have any money of her own to live on. But she waited too long, because just as she's about to tell him she's ready to marry him, Bill informs her that the ad firm has gone under, so he's without a job too.

Bill goes off to Chicago to find a new job, while Carol starts mooching off all her old society friends, but eventually one after the other realizes what's going on and dump her from their social circle, to the point that she's left in Chicago with no money and seemingly no hope. Finally, when all hope is lost, she runs into Bill again, who by now is working in trucking. Or was, for the very day the two meet again, the trucking company for which he was driving goes bankrupt, leaving him without a job.

Bill does get one more job, but he realizes too late it's as a scab, and the unionized workers are willing to resort to violent means to keep the scabs from working. Bill winds up injured and unable to work, and poor Carol doesn't have the money for any medical bills....

Faithless is an interesting movie, albeit one that's not without its flaws. Tallulah Bankhead is, I think, not quite the right person for the part of Carol. She comes across as too stupid and spoiled before going broke, to the point of being unsympathetic. She also doesn't look unglamorous after the fall. Montgomery fares better, although his role is a bit less demanding. The bigger problem both face is that they're at MGM, a studio where the gloss always shines through, even if it's in a movie that probably shouldn't have any gloss. I mentioned that recently with East Side, West Side, and it's even more evident here. This is supposed to be a tough Depression movie, and where Warner Bros. could do it well with its social commentary films, it's not something that ever came naturally to MGM.

Still, Faithless is more than worth a watch. It's available on a Robert Montgomery box set at both Amazon and the TCM Shop, although when I searched for it at Amazon, I had to search on "Robert Montgomery Collection" instead of the title Faithless.

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