Saturday, August 31, 2019
If You Could Only Cook (1935)
Jim Buchanan, president of a pioneering vehicle company, seems to have everything he could want, even a fiancee, and yet he's disappointed, especially when his radical new design is rejected by the board. Feeling down in the dumps. he goes to sit down in the park, where a jobless and homeless young woman Joan mistakes him for a fellow job-seeker, and together the two devise a plan to nab a well-paying job that's exclusive/only eligible for butlers and cooks. They end up in the mansion of the high society crook Mike Rosini, where they quickly make a favourable impression, and soon begin to fall in love. But what of Jim's real life back home?...
Promised by the studio as a Capraesque picture (causing an irate Frank Capra to consider legal action), If You Could Only Cook is a very enjoyable watch. It gets off to a great start, with an enjoyable and interesting concept
As it goes on though, the movie begins to falter. The biggest problem is ='s love life, and how we never see enough if his fiancee back home to get the impression she's that bad, so he comes off as a bit of a dick for not just breaking things off with her sooner rather than going all the way to the wedding, then ditching her. He honestly deserves everything bad that comes his way in the last act, and didn't really deserve the happy ending.
The love triangle also could've done with more work. I'd say this is a plot that would still be fine without one, but they almost try, and it's in all the marketing, but it never really goes anywhere. = and = are always the ones in love, and Rosini is never really a serious competition.
Despite a stellar first half, If You Could Only Cook lurches towards a really disappointing conclusion. All the pieces of the story are in place, but the last act does barely anything with them! =, Jim doesn't call off the wedding of his own volition, nor do we see the fallout of =. We never find out what happened with his car design, or any = with Joan's false arrest. Worst of all, we don't even get a proper final scene with Jim and Joan/the two leads! The ending is so abrupt that you'd be hard-pressed to call it an ending. Even by 1930s standards, it wasn't an ending at all!
despite being mobsters, = are shockingly polite and amusingly endearing
The actors all do fun jobs. Herbert Marshall is prim in a deadpan sort of way, =. Jean Arthur is the best Leo Carrillo is funny as the unscupulous gangster, and Lionel Stander feels like a comic book character in all the right ways as his henchman.
I recommend If You Could Only Cook. It's got its fair share of problems, and not even the ending rose above the second half's =, but it's never awful, by any means.