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1110Re: "God's Gift to Women"

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  • Harry Kollatz
    Nov 1, 2007
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      Harry Kollatz
      Senior Writer
      Richmond Magazine
      2201 W. Broad St. Suite 105
      Richmond, VA 23220
      (804) 355-0111 x 317
      Fax: (804) 355-8939

      Greetings all:

      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.

      --HEK







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