Sunday, January 29, 2012
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?
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.
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.