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God's Gift To Women is a sprightly 1930s comedy of manners with
splendid Deco sets, a young and vivacious Joan Blondell and, of
course, Our Lady, whose hair style is swept off her forehead while
all the other women around her sport the bob that she made famous.
Typical Louise; she was a trend maker, not a follower, and after all,
she'd worn her hair in that manner since before leaving Wichita.
Times and styles had changed by the time GGTW was made.
Portions of the film were screened here in Richmond, Va., as
part of the 2005 Lulupalooza at the Firehouse Theater. It was one of
several film excerpts used for "Brunch With Brooksie" on the Sunday
of the two-day event. Seeing it reminded us that even a otherwise
forgettable picture of the 1930s had better writing than many films
today. That Frank Fay's character was strangely nick named"Toto"--
like the dog in The Wizard of Oz-- didn't seem to bother anybody at
the time and may have been a pun.
My favorite scenes are the catfight on Toto's bed between Louise,
Blondell, and a third woman.
There's a few exchanges that remind me of the lyrical quality of
some of these older films. One of their husbands is seen arriving at
the hotel and they ask in roundelay fashiohn: "Is he fat?" "Is he
angry?" 'Is he bald?"
To which Toto's manservant replies , "Yes! He's crazy and he's
got a gun!"
Speaking of Louise's hair; there was that brief experiment with
marcelled waves that Pabst put her in at the dive bar she and the
Countess Geschwitz go to. It is a jarring difference from the sleek
black helmet, but she looks mighty fine, as she did wearing almost
anything, including men's clothes in Beggars of Life.
I don't recall--I'd have look it up in the Good Book by Paris--
that Fay gave Louise a difficult time. Richard Arlen in BOL was
outright rude and abusive. He was also fond of claiming he was a
World War I aviator. Louise didn't much care for Arlen's acting, nor
he as a person, and at one point she called him on his aviator boast.
She found it difficult to believe that if he was born in 1900 that he
flew a plane in a war that ended in 1918. This tweaked Arlen's ego
and he insulted her by shouting that she didn't have any talent,
wasn't all that good-looking and that her eyes were too close together.
This was the same picture in which she invited a stunt man into
her bed, then the next day, before the entire cast, in a loud voice
asked her if she had syphilis. It was one of her most humiliating
moments in public, maybe up there with getting kicked out of Denishawn.
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