Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cinema Tuesdays {Theodora Goes Wild}

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From 1936 it's the vastly underrated screwball Theodora Goes Wild, which is actually the first comedy that Irene Dunn was in and she's wonderfully funny in it.
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The Lynnfield Bugle, serving the small Connecticut town of Lynnfield has just gotten the serial rights to the most popular novel of the day: The Sinner by Caroline Adams. You can guess what the novel is about. Naturally this causes a huge uproar in the prudish town.
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Everyone calls in to complain, especially Theodora Lynn, calling on behalf of her two aunts Mary and Elsie, with whom she lives with. Being the Lynns of Lynnfield, they still run the town.
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Spring Byington plays Rebecca Perry, the town's chief gossip. Rebecca "treats" the Literary Circle to a reading of the first instalment so that the ladies can all tut at the shocking prose, after Rebecca's read out the good parts.
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Guess who "Caroline Adams" really is? Right, and she's hopping mad at Arthur the publisher for selling the serial rights to the Bugle. Remember when novels used to be serialized? They should bring that back.
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No one but Arthur and his secretary know who Caroline Adams really is, but Arthur's wife Ethel is dying to meet her and so she and her awesome bird hat force their way into the office.
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And look who followed Ethel, it's Melvyn Douglas. He's playing Michael Grant, who illustrates the covers for all of Arthur's books. Say, why doesn't everyone go out to dinner together.
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Michael is under the impression that Caroline is a small town teetotal spinster, but boy does she prove him wrong. She drinks Arthur and Ethel under the table.
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And then they go out dancing to a night club. You know, it's her shoes and her pussy bows that really give poor Caroline away to Michael.
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Michael then takes Caroline back to his snazzy deco apartment to see his etchings. But when he tries to act out the seduction scene from Caroline's book, she turns into Theodora and bolts. Anyone else think that Melvyn Douglas is totally cool?
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While in New York, Theodora visits her wicked Uncle John, who moved there because he favours chorus girls. He wants Theodora to move out of Lynnfield before she becomes trapped there forever.
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Theodora has been hiding her friend Adelaide Perry, Rebecca's daughter, at Uncle John's. Rebecca didn't approve of Adelaide's fiance because he's still in school and can't support her and so Theodora got her a "job" in New York. Adelaide is going to have a baby, but it's alright since she married her boyfriend. As to which came first isn't clear. But this act is the only thing that Uncle John is proud of Theodora doing.
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This dress is the only time we see Theodora not wearing some form of a bow around her neck.
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On Sunday, guess who the Lynns find whistling at their gate.
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Naturally, Michael blackmails Theodora into becoming her gardener for a couple of days.
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So, Michael sticks around for several days, much to the disapproval of the town, and he takes Theodora berry picking.
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And fishing.
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Rebecca is loving how shocked she is by Theodora's behaviour.
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The literary circle is barely speaking to Theodora or her aunts. Michael's influence has rubbed off on her and she tells the ladies to jump in the lake and what have you.
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But then she mentions the l-word to Michael and she gets a note the next morning.
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Naturally she puts on a jaunty hat and goes to his place.
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Who is this fashionable woman and what's she doing at Michael's?
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Turns out that Michael has been separated from Mrs. Grant for five years, but they can't get divorced because his father is in public office and he doesn't want any scandals.
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Michael wants to marry Theodora but can't until his father's term is up in two years.
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Miss Lynn isn't going to wait around for two years, so Caroline Adams moves into the apartment and Michael moves out.
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And then she goes shopping, because Caroline Adams doesn't wear pussy bows. And dammit Arthur, she wants publicity!
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Mrs. Grant is over the moon at this news. She'll divorce Michael if Caroline gives her reason to.
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"The Writer Lounging Around At Home"
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Michael wants to kill Theodora and denies that he's ever met Caroline.
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Ethel is especially worried about Theodora's new behaviour.
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When Arthur comes home drunk, she overreacts and names Caroline in the divorce suit.
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That really goes down well in Lynnfield.
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At the Governor's Ball, guess who crashes with a butterfly in her hair and is photographed dancing with Governor Stephen "Glad Hands" Wyatt?
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Then she gives Mrs. Grant evidence to divorce Michael.
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Boy, Lynnfield sure is addicted to gossip.
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Mary and Elsie are holding up quite well and they see nothing wrong with Theodora's behaviour.
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After disappearing for a while, Theodora finally returns to Lynnfield.
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And her new hat makes quite the impression.
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You can watch some clips by clicking here. TCM does occasionally show the film (I taped it at 5am almost two years ago), but it's not scheduled for the next three months. It is available on this Region 1 DVD collection, the other films aren't that great. Or you could search for an "illegal" copy.

1 comment:

Blondie said...

GReat post honey! I will have to check this one out! Don't forget to enter my Christmas giveaway that ends on Friday if you haven't already!


Kori xoxo