Today’s review is on the 1931 film Man Of The World, starring William Powell and Carole Lombard! So, let’s get through our theatrical short first, then it’s on with the show!
Coming Up Shorts! with… Ants In The Pantry (1970)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Ant And The Aardvark from Kino Lorber)
(Length: 6 minutes, 7 seconds)
The aardvark tries to act as pest control to get rid of the ant in a house. The exact setting may be different here, but it’s still business as usual, with the aardvark trying to eat the ant. Despite its formulaic aspects, this one was still a lot of fun. The only part that doesn’t really work well here is the ant’s rather high-pitched laugh, which just seems so out of place compared to his usual voice. Other than that, it’s worth a few laughs!
And Now For The Main Feature…
Former American newspaperman Jimmie Powers (William Powell) has for the last four years been living in Paris, France under the name Michael Trevor, due to a scandal that essentially saw him chased away from home. Now, he preys on rich American men who have come to the city for some “extramarital” fun. He has been posing as a novelist for his current victim, Harold Taylor (Guy Kibbee), and was paid to help keep the editor of a scandal sheet (in other words, himself, but Harold doesn’t know that) from printing an article about Harold’s recent affair. While Michael is there, he meets Harold’s niece, Mary Kendall (Carole Lombard), who is in Paris with her boyfriend, Frank Reynolds (Lawrence Gray). With Frank about to leave for a business trip, Mary convinces Michael to show them a few of the sights in Paris. Later, Michael meets up with the two people helping him run the scandal sheet, his ex-lover Irene Harper (Wynne Gibson) and Fred (George Chandler). Irene is thrilled with how much money they were able to get out of Harold, but, when she hears about his niece, she thinks they should create a scandal for her, hoping that Harold will be willing to pay even more. Michael is unwilling, as it is against his principles to blackmail women. In spite of that, Irene pushes him to do so anyways, since she needs the money to keep her brother out of prison. So, Michael spends some time with Mary and her uncle, and ends up falling in love with her. When Irene gets jealous and threatens to tell Mary about Michael’s past, he decides to tell her himself. Mary is very understanding, and tells him that that is all in the past, and they can still be together. However, Irene still won’t let him go, and reminds him that, whether he likes it or not, his past could eventually catch up to him, which would hurt Mary. Will Irene’s words ring true, or can Michael and Mary be together?
Man Of The World is the first of three films that William Powell and Carole Lombard made together. Besides this, they also made Ladies’ Man (also 1931) and My Man Godfrey (1936). Their chemistry is certainly evident onscreen (and apparently off, too, as they got married after finishing the movie). I had never previously seen this film, but I will admit I enjoyed it. After seeing the less-than-stellar acting (probably a result of sound tech still being so new) in Fast And Loose, the first film in the Carole Lombard set, this movie was a relief to see that the acting was overall far better. I liked the two leads, and found myself cheering for them to be together. I will readily admit that I did not see the ending coming, and I don’t know whether that was because it was a pre-Code or what, but it works. The biggest problem I have with this movie (through no fault of its own) is comparing it to the later William Powell/Carole Lombard pairing My Man Godfrey, which is such a well-known screwball classic. I will admit, I went into this movie with lowered expectations, since this movie isn’t as well known, but it was still hard not to compare the two movies. This one isn’t a big classic, and I can see why. Still, as a romantic drama, it works well enough that I would recommend it, at least if you can rent it/ stream it/ catch it on TV first.
This movie is available on Blu-ray as part of the Carole Lombard Collection: Volume 1 from Kino Lorber. The movie appears to have an HD scan, which for the most part looks pretty good. There are a few minor instances of dirt and other debris, but, again, very minor. The movie looks good enough for me, and this is the way I would recommend seeing it.
Film Length: 1 hour, 11 minutes
My Rating: 7/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
William Powell – The Thin Man (1934)