It’s Love I’m After (1937)

It's Love I'm After (1937)

Synopsis:

Famous stage actor Basil Underwood (Leslie Howard, Of Human Bondage) is about to marry his longtime girlfriend and co-star Joyce Arden (Bette Davis). But first, Basil has to deal with a persistent teen groupie, Marcia West (Olivia de Havilland, The Heiress), who doesn’t live him alone. Joyce goes bonkers when she discovers that her soon-to-be husband might be having an affair with his adoring fan.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“How is it that two people in love can be so mean to each other?”

Loosely based on the famous real-life stage couple Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, this farce was well received by both the public and critics. It’s Love I’m After continues to find new fans, but I have to admit that I just couldn’t get into it.

Written by Casey Robinson (Dark Victory) and directed by Archie Mayo (The Petrified Forest), It’s Love I’m After annoyed me rather than amused me. Comedy being the most subjective of movie genres, one has to take my criticism with a pinch of salt. I did enjoy seeing some of my favorite actors in atypical roles.

Bette Davis was a last-minute replacement for stage legend Gertrude Lawrence, who left the project for undisclosed reasons. Davis wasn’t happy with her role and I think I understand why. Her character disappears during big sections of the movie — Davis’s role is not that essential to the story.

Leslie Howard and Olivia de Havilland get better opportunities to shine. Howard is very funny and de Havilland plays her grating teen to the hilt. Admittedly, it was interesting to see all three actors together in a comedy. Howard and Davis played wildly diverse characters in Of Human Bondage and The Petrified Forest, and, of course, Howard and de Havilland would later appear together in the classic Gone with the Wind.

Despite my misgivings about this comedy, I laughed at some of the supporting characters’ silly antics. Scene-stealing character actors Eric Bore (Top Hat), Spring Byington (You Can’t Take It With You), George Barbier (The Smiling Lieutenant) and E.E. Clive (Bride of Frankenstein) are, as always, a complete delight. The cast also includes Patric Knowles (The Wolfman) and Bonita Granville (These Three).

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Although I didn’t think much of It’s Love I’m After — it tends to feel like a poor man’s My Man Godfrey — if you’re a fan of screwball comedies, check it out. It’s not a bad movie, I simply found it lacking in humor and charm. But the actors are fine and the movie moves at a brisk pace. B&W, 90 minutes, Not Rated.

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