Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Wacky heiress comedy #75424527584328578432760

Heiresses were a staple o screwball comedies in the 1930s. Heiresses getting chased by reporters happened almost as often, it seems: It Happened One Night and Libeled Ladu are two of the great comedies of all time. Fox's entry into the heiress vs. reporter genre is Love Is News, which is airing tomorrow morning at 10:15 AM on the Fox Movie Channel, with half a dozen further airings in August.

Loretta Young, who was already a fairly big star by the time the movie was made in 1937, plays the heiress, Toni Gateson. She's just broken off an engagement with Count de Guyon (George Sanders, in a small role billed well down the credits), and that engagement -- as well of the rest of Toni's private life -- has become fodder for the tabloids of the day, something that Toni doesn't like. She really values her privacy. So, when reporter Steve Layton (Tyrone Power) is sent out by editor Martin Canavan (Don Ameche) to get Toni's story, he has to engage in a ruse to get it. He poses as a police detective escorting her from her plane to the city, asking her questions along the way. However, she learns that he's really a reporter, and he's not about to let her have some privacy by not publishing the story.

What's a scorned heiress to do? Why, turn the tables on the reporter by making him part of the story! Toni gets Steve in a hotel restaurant, where she can make certain all the other reporters hear about how the two of them are engaged to be married. It's a bogus story, of course, but it's tabloid fodder that all of the other reporters can get. She's tricked Steve out of a scoop, she's given all the other reporters something phony to try to ruin their credibility, and she's let Steve know what it's like to have reporters hounding your every move. Steve tries to set the record straight, and Toni tries to make his life more of a nightmare. Along the way, you can probably figure out that the two are going to begin to fall in love as well.

Love Is News is one of those many movies that I would rate as being in the range of successfully entertaining without being anything particularly special. But with a running time of just under 80 minutes, this solid professionalism is enough as the movie doesn't wear out its welcome. You don't normally think of Loretta Young and Tyrone Power doing comedy, and certainly not screwball comedy. Loretta Young is pretty good; Tyrone Power is the sort of actor who I think was better-suited to being the foil; letting everybody else around him being funny. Watch the scene where he has to deal with small-town judge Slim Summerville, for example. He doesn't bring down the proceedings here, but if you had tried to put him into something else from around the same time like My Man Godfrey or Bringing Up Baby, he would have failed spectacularly, I think. Ameche was adept at comedy, or at least Fox kept giving him comic material that worked to his strengths. He plays his role effortlessly, especially in a running joke about him firing and re-hiring Power.

Love Is News has received multiple DVD releases: one by the Fox Cinema Archive, one on a Tyrone Power box set, and one as part of a double bill with the remake, 1948's That Wonderful Urge (in which Power reprises his role, this time opposite Gene Tierney).

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