Brotherly Love has been saddled with the label “tragicomedy” for decades, though there is very little outright comedy here, just wry observations and O’Toole waving his arms about more than usual. Essentially, York and O’Toole both give fine performances while both seemingly failing to understand the humor in all of this. Though the screenplay was written by Kennaway, it feels like an inferior adaptation, and O’Toole’s role feels like a rehearsal for The Ruling Class (1972).
With an ex-con butler, silly parlour games and a house full of whackadoos, Not So Dumb is a direct ancestor to the screwball comedies that would become popular in the late 1930s. Dulcy’s jangly bracelets are reminiscent of Mame Dennis’ acting debut and plot points seen in Not So Dumb are used again and again in films like Arsenic and Old Lace, Holiday, The Philadelphia Story, and others. And for those of you who think Gone With the Wind was the first instance of a mainstream film using naughty, naughty swears, note that Mr. Forbes, the cranky businessman, declares, “I don’t care a damn about pictures!” And he doesn’t stop there.
Eccentric or no, by the time the love triangle between Barbara, Franchot Tone and B-actor Tom Neal turned violent, Barbara was no longer famous, but rather infamous. Her decline continued and in a few short years she was being busted for bad checks and soliciting.
Woman in White is a post-Code lurid Gothic horror, and as such pushes its own boundaries within the genre, mostly through the character of Count Fosco. It’s interesting to note that the film was made in 1946 and not released until 1948, when standards had lessened to a degree; I can’t imagine Frederick’s assertion that he personally has no problem with pre-marital sex being allowed in a film in 1946. But concessions were apparently made to appease the Production Code, and by the time the useless and unstable Frederick reveals himself to be a libertine, he’s been so sufficiently coded as evil and gay that his open-mindedness is easy to overlook.
Not precisely a revival nor a biopic, the 1930 Marion Davies vehicle The Florodora Girl takes little more than a name and the vague idea of a Florodora Girl and transplants her into pre-Code Hollywood, and to strange, though not uninteresting, effect. So light at times that it looks as though it will blow away, reviewer Creighton Peet of The Outlook dubbed The Florodora Girl as “completely delightful nonsense.”