The Bette Davis Project: The Golden Arrow (1936)

The Golden Arrow (1936)Synopsis:

An ambitious newspaper reporter, Johnny Jones (George Brent, Special Agent), is assigned to interview an heiress to a cosmetics fortune, Daisy Appleby (Bette Davis), only to find out that she might not be who she says she is.

Reaction & Thoughts:

It’s hard for me to find anything good to say about this trite romantic comedy. It’s a pretty anemic effort by the folks at Warner Bros. The Golden Arrow, written by Charles Kenyon, and directed by Alfred E. Green (The Girl from 10th Avenue), was clearly inspired by the success of Frank Capra’s 1934 classic It Happened One Night. However, nothing here is near the high quality of Capra’s excellent screwball comedy. This knock off turns out badly due to a nothing storyline and cheap production values.

The film is a perfect example of the studio’s tendency to use its most popular stars to sell nonsensical material. Davis referred to The Golden Arrow as “the beginning of the end, temporarily, of my contract with Warner Bros.” She found the whole experience insulting to say the least. Who am I to argue with her?

Davis tried to beat some sense into the material (ironically, Capra wanted her for It Happened One Night), but it was really a lost cause — it wasn’t worth her sweat. There is a particularly unfunny, totally embarrassing moment where Davis appears with a black eye — it’s one of the lowest points in her career. It’s no wonder that she nearly lost her mind when Warners used her hard-earned Oscar (for Dangerous) to promote the film.  Alas, nothing helped — the film was both a critical and commercial failure.

Photographed by Arthur Edeson (Casablanca). With Dick Foran (The Petrified Forest), Craig Reynolds (The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry), and Eugene Pallette (Bordertown).

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

The Golden Arrow has one simple problem; it’s just not funny. The good chemistry between Davis and Brent can’t save it — this is the worst of the pair’s many films together. B&W, 68 minutes, Not Rated.

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