Critical Moments

When last seen during the late theatrical season “Paris Interlude” and “Hat, Coat and Glove,” two of this week’s current cinemas, were legitimate productions, known respectively as “All Good Americans” and “A Hat, A Coat, A Glove.” As Broadway stage offerings neither caused very much excitement. “A Hat, A Coat, A Glove” stayed open only until the movie rights had been sold and although “All Good Americans,” in which Hope Williams played, enjoyed a fairly long run, at no time was the box office swamped with clamoring patrons.

Having been made into pictures both shows have undergone violent treatment with different results. RKO, who made “Hat, Coat and Glove,” improved their product. As a mystery play, this piece of work by Wilhelm Speyer was fair at best, but by adding Barbara Robbins, Ricardo Cortez and a good supporting cast the finished version is a well done and rather absorbing screen drama. On the stage, the courtroom scene where the criminal lawyer cleverly shifts the motives for the crime, there was a paucity of action and background, but in the picture this fault has been corrected and in addition some real comedy relief has been injected with pleasing results.

If you saw the play, you will remember that it concerned the unhappy plight of a married woman who is found drunk in a young man’s apartment by her husband, a famous criminal lawyer and what happens after she is murdered and the criminal lawyer defends his wife’s lover. The picture follow this pattern with some variations.

As a play, “Paris Interlude” or “All Good Americans” was a comedy by Laura and S. J. Perelman which told of the sad but laughable experiences of a group of expatriate Americans in Paris. The heroine was a fashion designer who found herself wasting her life on a writer who refused to write. She finally decided to marry a New York suburban banker, settle down and flaunt him with her past, but of course our hero turned up in time and all ended happily.

The interludes were supplied by drunken American newspapermen, college boys on a Paris fringe, female tennis players and other odd and assorted characters. All this jelled into an amusing farce.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, in changing “All Good Americans” into “Paris Interlude,” “muffed,” as they say on the baseball field. The simple plot of the play has become a wholly unnecessary and involved story on the screen. The robust humor of the Perelmans has been toned down to a whisper and what little sentimental moments the play possessed have been blown up into a huge sticky mess. Madge Evans, Una Merkel, Otto Kruger and Ted Healy as the leading players do about as well as you would expect, but they all seem to be forcing and pumping as though they were trying to keep the life in “Paris Interlude.”

LADIES SHOULD LISTEN

The Paramount offers a comedy called “Ladies Should Listen,” which unfolds with some pathos and laughter the life of a telephone operator in a fashionable hotel who, by listening at the phone while the guests talk, learns most of their secrets. The operator (Frances Drake) spends most of her time keeping a young Frenchman (Cary Grant) out of the clutches of scheming females, wily confidence men and others of that ilk. Naturally she eventually gets her reward. “Ladies Should Listen” is an ingenious and entertaining film, not very important but certain to help you pass a pleasant hour.

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