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Thursday, 13 June 2013

Classic Film Review: Curtain Call (1940)

Curtain Call tells the story of a naive playwright, Helen Middleton (Barbara Read), who is offered the chance to have her play put on by producer and director team Geoffrey Crandall (Donald MacBride) and Donald Avery (Alan Mowbray). But little does she realise that Crandall and Avery have picked her play because it was the worst one that has crossed their paths and they need a bad vehicle to force their star actress Charlotte Morley (Helen Vinson) into altering her stance on her new contract. When she thinks it's a wonderful script, though, Crandall tasks Avery to romance Helen in order to get her permission for changes to the script but that might drive Avery to an early grave.

This is a short film and reasonably entertaining, even if the writer in me didn't appreciate the jokes at Helen's expense. At the beginning of the film her writing ambitions are ridiculed by her family and occasional boyfriend Ted (John Archer) but instead of correcting her beliefs about her work they just allow her to go through with her humiliation. On a personal level, this touched me a bit.

However, there are some amusing moments, mostly coming when Avery tries to keep up with a younger woman. Also worth a mention is Smitty (Leona Maricle), Crandall's secretary, who has her fair share of good lines throughout.

All in all, this is an odd little film. I'm not sure any of the leads work well together but there are enough amusing moments to hold attention throughout this one. It spawned a sequel based on Crandall and Avery's attempts to get money out of an old woman (yes, the plots seemed to inspire Mel Brooks). I'll be getting to Footlight Fever (1941) in due course.

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