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Friday, July 19, 2013

The Divorce of Lady X (1938)

When a thick London fog prevents guests at a fancy dress ball from leaving the hotel, a young woman (Merle Oberon) is forced to spend the night with a young attorney (Laurence Olivier) in his hotel suite. They find themselves attracted to each other but in a case of mistaken identities, he mistakes her for the four time married wife of a client (Ralph Richardson). She plays along with his erroneous conclusions. This bright Technicolored attempt at screwball comedy looks like it was filmed inside a candy box. It goes into overdrive at being bubbly and witty and it occasionally succeeds but one can see the wheels spinning and the actors trying too hard. Olivier, looking quite handsome, still hadn't learned to relax in front of the camera yet (he credits William Wyler for teaching him to act on film the following year in WUTHERING HEIGHTS) and Merle Oberon was never very good at a light touch. Oscar winning Harry Stradling (MY FAIR LADY) did the lensing and if you didn't see his name in the credits, you'd never guess the innocuous score was by Miklos Rozsa. Directed by Tim Whelan (THIEF OF BAGDAD). With Binnie Barnes and Morton Selten.

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