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Saturday, November 19, 2016

This Is The Night (1932)

When the husband (Cary Grant) of his mistress (Thelma Todd) comes home unexpectedly and catches them together, her lover (Roland Young, TOPPER) hires a girl (Lili Damita, who was married to Errol Flynn and Michael Curtiz) to pose as his wife to throw the husband off the scent. When all four of them go on a vacation to Venice, things get interesting. Based on the 1923 French farce POUCHE by Henri Falk and Rene Peter which in turn was adapted for the American stage in 1925, this is a perfectly charming pre-code screwball romcom. While not a musical, the director Frank Tuttle (THIS GUN FOR HIRE) opens the film with a musical sequence in the manner of Rene Clair and Rouben Mamoulian. This was Grant's film debut but the romantic male lead is Young, who would switch to character work in a few years. I'm surprised the film doesn't have a more well known reputation but I suppose it's because the leads (Young, Damita) never became major stars and Tuttle doesn't have the reputation of a Clair or Mamoulian. But it's a delightful piece of fluff which reminded me of TOP HAT and THE GAY DIVORCEE without the musical numbers. One amusing running gag has Thelma Todd (who died under mysterious circumstances at 29) constantly being stripped of her dress. With Charles Ruggles and Irving Bacon.

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