Saturday, December 21, 2019
The 12 Days of Carole Lombard: I Take This Woman (1931)
Kay Dowling is a spoiled socialite, and a constant source of frustration to her father. He decides to give her an ultimatum-Go stay at the family ranch for a while, or he'll permanently disinherit her. She grudgingly obeys, and soon makes an enemy of a local farmhand Tom, all because he's indifferent to her. She decides the best revenge will be to make him fall in love with her, then leave, spurning him. trouble begins when she finds herself falling for him too...
People back in the olden days sure were desperately horny! Sure, they wouldn't go out and bang the nearest person they saw, but they'd get married at the drop of a hat! It was ridiculous!
I Take This Woman tells of the tumultuous romance between a rich city woman and an honest ranch worker. It starts off well, with Kay being introduced as a stuck-up bitch with some serious issues, but changes when she meets handsome and down-to-earth farmhand Tom. And then they get married! 25 minutes in. No dating, and a very short romance, and suddenly they're already on their honeymoon! That opens up the first problem I had with this movie. The courtship section is very short, as is the attitude change in Kay. It's all good stuff, but they could've stretched it out longer.
As with all romances, there's the inevitable third act break-up. It's a total downer, as can be expected, but the movie does do a good job of foreshadowing it. Kay is happy with her new life and man, but for everything that she likes, there's another that gets on her nerves, until she can finally take no more. Even if we do think she's a bitch for leaving, it at least makes sense from her perspective.
The movie runs at a fairly brief 76 minutes, and pretty much everything that happens in the movie is well thought out. Some scenes are a bit rushed or glossed over, but = overall pretty good. My only complaints besides the quick romance was the horse racing interlude at the end (which felt like it was just filler to pad out the runtime), and the ending. The couple get back together, as you'd expect, but it's all very underwritten! After pleading with Tom to take her back, Kay says "If you don't love me, just say so.". He says nothing, they kiss, and then the movie just stops! I think maybe the director fell asleep, or the crew realised they only had 1 day left of shooting, not 1 week.
The two main characters in this movie aren't the deepest, but they've got enough to them, good and bad, and they make for a mostly convincing couple. The supporting cast don't get a whole lot to do though. = only appears briefly, but gets plenty worthwhile. Kay's father meanwhile almost vanishes entirely, and even when he is back in the picture, he doesn't do much, then disappears before the ending, with no resolution. And then here's the would-be fiancee, who doesn't seem to be able to take No or Marriage or another man for an answer
The acting here is all good. Carole Lombard is convincing as a spoiled brat, as a lovestruck wife, and a frustrated ranchwoman. Gary Cooper isn't the most emotional of men here, but in a good way. He comes across as calm and easygoing, with nothing rattling him, or making him raise his voice.
One major drawback to I Take This Woman is the complete and total absence of music! It's as silent as a tomb, even when there should be some rousing country music playing.
The direction here was a high point! It's mostly just serviceable, but every now and then is a creatively framed shot, which made me smile in appreciation.
I Take This Woman has some problems, but isn't a bad movie. It's got enough to recommend if you like sappy romances, and cowboys. And Gary Cooper, not to mention Carole Lombard...