Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I Love Lawrence

This week TCM showed the 1931 film Friends and Lovers, and Barry, who loves old movies, recorded it with our DVR.  We watched it last night.

The rather forgettable plot of Friends and Lovers revolves around two English soldiers played by Adolphe Menjou and Lawrence Olivier who fall in love with the same (married) woman.  This film is obviously quite an early talkie; the sound quality is terrible, and Erich von Stoheim, predictably playing the villain, has not yet learned how to inject emotion into his Peter Lorre-like voice.  Lili Damita, who went on to marry Errol Flynn several years later, is not very well cast as the female protagonist.  She's perfect as an icy femme fatale, but in the scenes where she is supposed to be a soul writhing in torment she looks more as if she's worried that she left the water running in the bathtub.

The redeeming virtue of this film (at least for female viewers) is Olivier.  He was 23 when this movie was shot, and gorgeous - all big flashing eyes, wide shoulders, and wavy hair.  Sigh.  He had only been making films for a year (this was his fourth), so some of his gestures are still a little too stage-actorishly large, but who cares?

In short, Friends and Lovers is more a historical curiosity than a classic, but it's only 68 minutes long and worth a look if you are interested in Olivier's early career.

"Acting is a masochistic form of exhibitionism. It is not quite the occupation of an adult." ~Sir Lawrence Olivier

No comments:

Post a Comment