Sunday, May 13, 2018

Oh, I love her!

I am speaking of the luminous Carole Lombard. She was completely unique. No one delivered a line like Lombard. She spoke fast and had a special way of making each line seem like it just occurred to her. And, oh, she was funny. She made both silly and smart seem so sexy and glamorous.

My movie group saw Hands Across the Table last night. A hit in 1935, during The Depression, Lombard plays Regi. She's a working girl, a manicurist in a luxury hotel. She comes from poverty, and working for the wealthy guests just reminds her of the gap between the haves and the have nots. She determines that she's going to marry rich. She admits that makes her "a heel," but so be it. At least she's honest about it.

One afternoon, a handsome young man with a numeral after his name comes in for a manicure. As she holds his hands, their eyes lock, and chemistry erupts all over the place. So much so that he leaves the salon with six bandaged fingertips ... and a date for that night. Regi's gal pal warns her that men like Theodore Drew III expect their dinner companions to behave in a certain way. Her response?


So it turns out the handsome millionaire is really all Social Register and no bank account. Therefore it doesn't matter how attracted they are. They can't fall in love because if they do, they will derail their grand plans to marry money.

My favorite scenes in the movie are between Regi and Allen (Ralph Bellamy). He's a millionaire who
lives in the hotel and gets a manicure a week (then two or three) right there in his luxury suite. He admires and appreciates Regi, but she doesn't look at him as matrimonial material because he's in a wheelchair. This frees her to be herself with him. I know the filmmakers think this movie has a happy ending, but it left me a little sad. I liked Regi. I liked Allen. How wonderful if they could have lived out there lives together in affection and respect, no artifice. Of course, as this movie makes clear in subtle 1935 ways, no intercourse and no babies. There are ways they could have enjoyed one another sensually, and they could have adopted. (I mean, it was 1935! Imagine all the children who needed homes!) But here I am, looking at the Depression with a Baby Boomer's sensibility.

Still I loved it. And it was good to be with my movie group again. Talking classic movies in a room full of film lovers is sublime!

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