Sunday, January 29, 2012

Personal Property(1937).

Personal Property(1937). Romantic/comedy. Cast: Jean Harlow and Robert Taylor and directed by W.S. Van Dyke. It is based on the play The Man In Possession by H.M. Harwood.

The story begins when, Dabney Lingerie and Underwear, hits hard times and Claude Dabney makes plans on marrying a wealthy American widow. Claude's younger brother Raymond, comes home after being released from prison for stealing a car. His mother is happy to have him home, but his father and Claude are worried that his return will end the marriage plans, so they ask him to leave.

That evening, Raymond attends a performance of "Aida" and is seated next to Crystal Wetherby, who he does not know is Claude's fiancee. After the performance Raymond, follows her home in a taxi. Outside the house, Raymond meets Herbert Jenkins, who represents Crystal's creditors. When Jenkins tells Raymond that he would like to leave because his wife is having a baby, Raymond offers to fill in for him and will stay to make certain that nothing is stolen.

Once inside, Raymond is told by Crystal that her husband is upstairs. She then stomps around the house in boots, hoping that the noise will convince Raymond, that her husband is home. The next morning Raymond learns from Clara the maid, that Crystal is a widow.

Raymond, offers to work as her butler "Ferguson" during a dinner party for her, fiance and his parents and is shocked to see that her fiance is his brother Claude. The Dabneys, do not acknowledge their son, then, while Raymond is out of the room, Claude tells Crystal that her butler has been in prison.

Crystal begins to realize that she is in love with Raymond. Later, Claude offers Raymond five hundred pounds if he promises to leave England, which Raymond accepts. Raymond pays all of Crystals debts, but, because she now owes him the money, he has Jenkins repossess all of her furniture just before her wedding to Claude. Raymond then tells Claude about Crystal's financial problems, after which Claude and all the guests leave. Now, what is Crystal to do that she is left at the alter?

Fun Facts:

Throughout the film, Jean wears a star sapphire ring, a sort of engagement ring from her boyfriend William Powell.

Harlow and Taylor make an excellent comedy team and I only wished that they had work together again. The story is very charming and the wit goes along at a nice pace, charming characters and beautiful costumes make this a wonderful movie.

Una O'Connor (October 23, 1880 – February 4, 1959). For many years, she worked in Ireland and England as a stage actress. She landed a part in Alfred Hitchcock's Murder! (1930). She had not attracted much attention until she was chosen by Noel Coward to appear in, Cavalcade (1933). Her success led her to Hollywood to reprise her role and with its success, O'Connor decided to remain there.

A favourite of the director James Whale, O'Connor's best remembered roles are her comic performances in, The Invisible Man (1933) as the publican's wife and Bride of Frankenstein (1935) as the Baron's housekeeper. She played 'straight' roles too, such as the grieving mother of a captured IRA member in, The Informer (1935).

O'Connor also performed in supporting roles in theatre productions, and achieved an outstanding success in the role of "Janet McKenzie", the nearly deaf housemaid, in Agatha Christie's Witness for the Prosecution at Henry Miller's Theatre on Broadway from 1954 until 1956. As one of the witnesses, in what was essentially a serious drama, O'Connor's character was intended to provide comic relief.

O'Connor was highly praised for her work, and also played the role in the Billy Wilder-directed film version of the same story in 1957. The film was a great success, and O'Connor once again received excellent reviews. It was her final film performance. By this time she was in her late seventies and decided to retire.


  1. Harlow and Taylor did work together elsewhere, albeit in another medium. They co-starred in "Madame Sans-Gene" on "Lux Radio Theater" in late 1936, and it can be found online. Supposedly the area of the Hollywood theater where "Lux" was broadcast that night was swarmed with people, though apparently more were there for Taylor than Harlow. (I have nothing against the guy, but Taylor is one of those leading men whose appeal doesn't translate to today's viewers; unlike Gable, Grant, Stewart, W. Powell, Power or even the 1930s MacMurray, there's simply no edge to him. It may have been that middle-American lack of edge that made him the perfect leading man for Mayer's MGM in the post-Thalberg era.)

  2. Never seen this one, Dawn. I do agree with Robin that the picture at the start of your article is great.

  3. Robin, Jean Harlow, looks amazing in white.

    VP, Thank you for letting us know about Harlow and Taylor, working together in, "Madame Sans-Gene" on "Lux Radio Theater". I will look for it. I agree.. Taylor's popularity did not last, like some of the other leading men of his era.

    Kim, Thank you. I just saw this movie for the first time last week.. What a nice surprise..


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