FORSAKING ALL OTHERS(director: W.S. Van Dyke; screenwriters: Joseph L. Mankiewicz/based on the play by Edward Barry Roberts and Frank Morgan Cavett; cinematographers: Gregg Toland/George Folsey; editor: Tom Held; music: Dr. William Axt; cast: Joan Crawford (Mary Clay), Clark Gable (Jeff Williams), Robert Montgomery (Dill Todd), Charles Butterworth (Shep), Billie Burke (Paula), Frances Drake (Connie Barnes), Rosalind Russell (Eleanor), Arthur Treacher (Johnson); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Bernard H. Hyman; MGM; 1934)
“It’s an easy film to take because the stars are palatable and go down as easy as a Bromo-Seltzer, as they carry this thin predictable comedy as far as can be expected.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
W.S. Van Dyke (“Naughty Marietta”/”The Thin Man”/”Manhattan Melodrama”) helms this slight screwball comedy that breezily tells of the pleasures and problems of forsaking all others. It’s based on the hit 1933 play by Edward Barry Roberts and Frank Morgan Cavett that starred Tallulah Bankhead. Joseph L. Mankiewicz is the writer who shoots for cleverness and wit, and most of the time misses both aims.
This was the sixth of eight films Joan Crawford made with Clark Gable. They had been on-and-off lovers since Possessed (1931), and even though Crawford was already involved with Franchot Tone, who would become her second husband, there still was evidently some romance to be had with Gable.
I didn’t see too much sophistication in this hokey slapstick production; also the idle rich characters and their love problems never touched my heart or did their silly antics reach my funny bone.
Jeff Williams (Clark Gable) returns from a long business trip to Spain to his hometown of New York to propose to Mary Clay (Joan Crawford), a childhood friend he secretly had a crush on for the last twenty years. Instead he’s shocked to learn that she’s to marry the next day their mutual childhood friend Dill Todd (Robert Montgomery), and therefore fails to tell Mary his secret. Knowing Mary always wanted cornflowers at her wedding, he has them sent anonymously to the wedding reception. Mary thinks Dill sent them and gushes. Connie Barnes (Frances Drake), Dill’s former flame from his stay in Paris last year, meets with Dill on the evening of his bachelor party and talks the irresponsible gentleman into missing the party and marrying her that evening. At the church, Mary finds out from best man Jeff that Dill stood her up at the altar.
Mary is recovering from her shock in the rustic home of her aunt Paula (Billie Burke) in the Adirondacks, when Jeff and his comic relief friend Shep (Charles Butterworth) visit. When Mary surprisingly gets an invite to a cocktail party by Dill, she drags Jeff along. The invitation was sent by the spiteful Connie, the film’s heavy, who wanted to embarrass Mary even further. Instead it leads to Mary thinking she still loves Dill and the two getting together in a giddy rendezvous at aunt Paula’s cottage. When Connie forces Dill’s butler Johnson (Arthur Treacher) to give up where Dill is, she kicks up a fuss before settling for a load of cash to grant hubby a divorce. This paves the way for Mary to try to marry Dill for a second time, but when the loyal Jeff confesses he always loved her and she further learns that he sent the cornflowers—she realizes that she loves Jeff and runs to meet him before he sails for Spain and they tie the knot aboard the ship.
It’s an easy film to take because the stars are palatable and go down as easy as a Bromo-Seltzer, as they carry this thin predictable comedy as far as can be expected.
REVIEWED ON 2/11/2008 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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