March 21st

Rent >> Private Lives

Private Lives (Warner Archive)
Private Lives (Warner Archive) (1931)
Actor: Norma Shearer, Robert Montgomery, Reginald Denny, Una Merkel, Jean Hersholt, George Davis, Herman Bing, Ferike Boros, Alphonse Martell, Wilfrid North
Director: Sidney Franklin
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Year: 1931
Studio: Warner Home Video
Length: 84 minutes
Released: March 22, 2009
Rating: NR
Format: DVD
Misc: NTSC, Full Screen, Black & White
Language: English (Original Language)
True wit meets marital grit in this timeless Noel Coward comedy about two bon vivants who can't live without -- or with -- each other. Having barely survived the warfare of their wedlock, Amanda (Norma Shearer) and Elyot (Robert Montgomery) decide the play it safe, choosing dull mates to marry the second time around. But pedestrian is no match for passion, especially when mixed with proximity -- as in adjourning honeymoon suites! Off they go, leaving stunned new spouses to console each other. But it isn’t lomg until the brawls begin again. Montgomery was never more suave and Shearer never more slinky than in this pinnacle of the sophisticated comedy. A true classic regularly produced on stages everywhere, this was Coward’s personal favorite of all his plays.

  • A screwball comedy without humor is a what?

    JoeP | 08/22/2014
    Being a Noel Coward drama, it's going to be heavily dialog-driven, and all about relationship turmoils. Being MGM, it's going to have great sets & costumes.

    These details we know before the start, and then ... well, that's about it. I like a character-driven story, but the character here is that the principals are essentially insane. I don't mean they're raving lunatics, but that their degree of narcissism makes the Seinfeld characters seem fairly well-adjusted. There being nothing to this story but the details of their self-obsession, the entire film consists of raptures, arguments and temporary truces.

    That being said, once Shearer and Montgomery get past the static set-up, they're quite energetic -- more importantly, convincing. Merkel sadly gets nothing to do but keen & wheedle, and Reginald Denny almost gets to be likeable.
    If only we cared about any of them!
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