Thursday, November 8, 2018

Clearing Out My DVR Part 2: Madam Satan (1930); A Dress, A Dirigible and a Dame

I love my DVR. Next to the Keurig coffee maker and the GPS, it is an invention that changed my life for the better. However, unlike the coffee maker, which gratifies me instantly with hot coffee and the GPS, that provides quick and (usually) correct directions, the DVR requires that I actually watch the movies I record. This year I have vowed to clean out the recordings in my DVR by actually watching them.

Next up: Madam Satan (1930)

I can honestly say that I have never liked anything directed by Cecil B. De Mille. This includes the fabled pre-code "Madam Satan." While not the biblical De Mille epic, it has all the hallmarks of CB's style: long stretches of boring nonsense punctuated by spectacle and sin.

On the minus side

The 2 leads, Kay Johnson and Reginald Denny, are very uninteresting. I loathed the both of them. Kay Johnson, as wife Angela, suffers as a good little wife should while her cheating husband, Bob, who runs around town with his drinking buddy Jimmy (Roland Young), flagrantly disrespects his marriage vows with booze, women and good times. His wife, he states, is a bore. While I don't admire Bob, I have to concur.

When the wife is a bore, the husband has the right to cat around, right?
The story is simply ridiculous. I'll spare you the details, but it is just one of those silly farces where the wife disguises herself and adopts a phony French accent. Bob, like all of the husbands in these situations, fails to recognize his wife under the disguise, has his ardor is rekindled by feminine wiles and, presto,  their marriage is saved. 
Bedroom farce, marital lies, mistaken identity... yawn
It is long. Maybe if it was just one of those quickie little pre-codes it might have been less objectionable, but it goes on for almost 2 hours.

On the plus side

Lillian Roth. The costumes aboard the blimp are fabled, but I thought the very best this about this film was Lillian Roth. As Trixie, the Other Woman, she is adorable, she is sassy, she has spark and I wish there was more of her. Check her out:

Roland Young, as the buddy with the blimp, is fun, too - in small doses.

The costume ball get-ups are quite legendary, a real flight of fantasy by designer Adrian. Feast your eyes:

and Trixie, of course:

The real show-stopper was Madam Satan's gown. If only the lady inside the gown was equally alluring.

And then there is that soiree of the blimp. First, we have dancing clocks and then a bizarre musical homage to electricity (which takes the whole thing down with a lightening strike).

Really, I just don't know what to say about this:

Then some debauchery with scantily clad women. Someone recognizes Trixie by her appendectomy scar. Bob pretty much makes an attempt to ravage Madam Satan in a very distasteful way, but, hey, it's De Mille.

Really, Bob... you can't tell that is your wife?
The whole thing ends in a stupid and mildly offensive way (hey lady, your marriage is in trouble because you aren't sexy enough). Really, it's just stupid. And way too long. 

Next up: The More the Merrier (1943)


The Lady Eve said...

Haven't seen this one either. And, thanks to you, won't bother. Unlike the characters and the film itself, you're post was anything but boring, and even gave me something to think about. Which is, I've never liked any of Cecil B. DeMille's movies either.

River Miss said...

As an avid fan of Pre-Code films, I relish each one even if they are awash in cheesiness. True, I'm a fan of DeMille's biblical epics adorned with the best in costumes, cinematography, voluptuous female starlets, newest, handsome leading men, etc. These films are literally a feast for the eyes. In some of DeMille's Pre-Code works, I suspect he's allowing us peeks into his personal fantasies. He brought them to life and did so without being arrested. Surely DeMille sweat like a Brahma bull while viewing the silent classic, "Metropolis," and it's deliciously decadent European flavored costumes for the period. The costumes in "Madam Satan" echo the futuristic attire of "Metropolis." DeMille gingerly handles the naughty subjects of the time. Twenty five to thirty years later, Russ Meyer exploitation films will do the same, but abashedly without any gentility and on a much tighter budget. Call me a sucker if you want, but I enjoy the cheesy, campy Russ Meyer films as well as the lush, full, no expense spared biblical epics of DeMille.

FlickChick said...

Patty - thanks so much for stopping by. And thanks even more for the agreement about DeMille!

FlickChick said...

River Miss - I hear you. It does have many visually exciting moments - it just takes so darn long t get there! Many thanks for your great comment.

Silver Screenings said...

There are lot of negative reviews about this film, but it sure gets a lot of attention! I need to see this, just to see some of those costumes in action.

FlickChick said...

Hi Ruth - it is worth a look for the costumes - maybe with a fast-forward!