William Powell and Kay Francis are so refined and effortlessly classy that they put even their contemporaries to shame. 1932 must have been quite a year for Francis, appearing in both this and the superb Trouble in Paradise. She’s impossibly beautiful, and when you first see her face in close-up, you can almost feel a bomb go off. It takes chemistry to make such a bomb and this film has so much of it that it really should be stored safely for watching with someone very special.
Paragraph two should be about something different – but it might be worth taking a look at the main photo of Kay Francis on IMDb before continuing. Its brief bio begins by stating that she’s possibly one of the biggest forgotten stars of the golden age. How could someone forget such a face? It’s one that I find hauntingly familiar, seeing as I once fell for head over heels for someone who looked very much like her. In this case she wasn’t such a nice person, but she was a superb actress as well (off the stage, unfortunately), and a very beautiful, intelligent and charming woman. Quite a few nasty things happened in that chapter of my life but I simply couldn’t allow myself to fight back, even against character-damaging lies. That’s the level of beauty I believe Kay Francis possessed – something a man might willingly go over a cliff for.
While Kay Francis does a very fine job in her role, this time around it’s William Powell who steals the show (Herbert Marshall did the same in Trouble in Paradise). What a man. In this film he personifies the perhaps eternally mythical suave gentleman of – who’s strong but gentle; treats people with respect but will stand up to those who disrespect others in a big way; is deserving of and receives the respect of others. No matter the era this unicorn always seems to be something that has only recently died out. I’d suspect that this kind of gentleman is such a rare thing at any point in time that he may go unnoticed by many. It’s something I’d certainly aspire to: to personify the positive traits of such a fictional character. If that’s silly, then I’m silly. I’m silly anyway, but perhaps one day I’ll turn around and Kay Francis will see the strength of character in being straightforward and honest.
That’s all the important stuff about this film done with. As for the unimportant stuff: the two main characters have different names from the actors who play them and there’s a boat in the film. Even so, I’m not going to recommend it as something only for those who like boats. Rated on a romance scale of zero to It Happened One Night, I’m going to give it an absolute must-see. Powell really is superb. The set-up (which I won’t get into) is intriguing. I really liked how the detail about Francis’ character is perhaps overly-contrived… but it doesn’t matter. The more minor characters are interesting enough in their own ways and all the ingredients make just the right kind of stew, no matter the weather. Especially if it’s romance o’clock.