The Bette Davis Project: 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 his soon-to-be husband might be having an affair with his adoring fan.

Reaction & Thoughts:

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.

It’s Love I’m After, written by Casey Robinson (Dark Victory and Now, Voyager), directed by Archie Mayo (The Petrified Forest), 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 favorite actors in atypical roles and the film has some of the era’s finest supporting actors.

Davis wasn’t happy with her role (she was a last-minute replacement for stage legend Gertrude Lawrence). I think I understand why. Her character disappears during big sections of the movie — Davis’s role is not that essential to the story.

Howard and de Havilland get better opportunities to shine. Howard is very charming and de Havilland plays her grating teen to the hilt. The actors do show their versatility. 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, even I had to laugh at some of the supporting characters’ silly antics. Scene-stealing character actors Eric Bore (Top Hat), Bonita Granville (These Three), 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.

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. B&W, 90 minutes, Not Rated.

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