Private Lives (1931) - Movie Chain Review #2

November 16, 2009

Wendy from Movie Viewing Girl has started a movie review chain-- First she kicked things off by reviewing The Women, and I chose Norma Shearer as my link to the next review. Here are the rules if you'd like to participate!

1. Call dibs on doing the next review in the comments. First one to speak up gets it, others will have to wait to join up to the next link in the chain! (Chains usually only link one at a time, after all. It's not a movie review tree.)

2. Write your own review of another movie (it should be one not yet used in the chain) and post it on your blog. Make sure the link to the previous review is made clear and that you link back to the original post where the chain began (so we can keep track of how the chain grows). The link can be an actor or actress, director, or something more creative (like a theme).

3. Include the rules of how to continue the chain, and let someone else continue it!

Noel Coward's classic play has been filmed and produced countless times, but I think that the story found it's perfect cast in the 1931 MGM version. Private Lives stars Norma Shearer and Robert Montgomery as an ex-husband and wife who bump into each other when each is on a honeymoon with a new spouse. (The premise alone is fantastic!) Despite their incessant bickering and arguing, they realize that the flame is still burning wild and decide to hightail it out of their honeymoon hotel to renew the love they long thought had died.

Once they are away together, the script provides a constant barrage of one-liners, insults and violence thrown together with some sticky gooey lovey dovey scenes. It's a marvelous combination, especially when the two people saying the lines and acting gooey are Robert Montgomery and Norma Shearer. Their skill with the witty repertoire makes what could feel like a filmed stage play seem fresh, alive and vigorous. And their characters' love-hate relationship is so volatile and hilarious that you wish you could see their entire married life on film, instead of this tiny 84 minute segment.

The new spouses are played by Una Merkel and Reginald Denny- and when the four of them meet up the tension and hilarity is quadrupled! I think Reginald Denny and Una Merkel are both sorely underrated - fantastic character actors who had the good looks to be stars. All in all I think this is a 100% perfect movie, and definitely holds a place in my top 20 films of all time.

Private Lives is available to purchase here and to view here.


Terence Towles Canote said...

I've always loved Noel Coward and Private Lives is one of his best. He seemed to have a gift for extremely witty dialogue and outrageous situations! I think the only Coward play I like better is Blithe Spirit.

Wendymoon said...

I've never seen this movie, but you've got me wanting to for sure!

Thanks for doing this link in the chain, looking forward to seeing where it goes next...

KC said...

Fun idea! Can I be #3? It'll give me a reason to write about Letty Lynton (1932), with Robert Montgomery.

Raquel Stecher said...

Love-hate romances are the BEST! Your profile sketches of Montgomery and Shearer are beautiful. :-)

I love this movie but can't re-watch it very often. Something about their constant bickering that is a lot to take. I feel so bad for Una Merkel in this one.

KC said...

Here's movie review #3!