Friday, August 14, 2020
FAST AND LOOSE
Kino has recently released a "Carole Lombard Collection I" Blu-ray box set, featuring three of the actress' early films, when she was under contract to Paramount. Two of the movies included, MAN OF THE WORLD and NO MAN OF HER OWN, had already been available on DVD, but the one I am covering today, FAST AND LOOSE, makes its home video debut.
FAST AND LOOSE (1930) is not a starring vehicle for Lombard--Miriam Hopkins, in her big-screen debut, gets first billing. Hopkins plays Marion, the spoiled daughter of a New York millionaire (Frank Morgan). Marion is engaged to a silly-ass English aristocrat, but she doesn't love him. Abandoning her engagement party, she meets up with a handsome fellow on the beach (Charles Starrett). The fellow turns out to be her family's newly hired mechanic, and while he's interested in Marion, he's annoyed by her flighty ways. Meanwhile, Marion's brother, a lazy lush named Bertie (Henry Wadsworth), is courting a chorus girl named Alice (Carole Lombard). Marion and Bertie's snobbish mother and uncle are appalled by their romantic relationships, but her father realizes that regular folks like Henry and Alice are just what his children really need.
The dialogue to FAST AND LOOSE is credited to the legendary Preston Sturges, and the director of the film was Fred Newmeyer, who worked with Harold Lloyd. If this makes you think the movie is a laugh-out loud riot, it isn't (at least from my standpoint). FAST AND LOOSE is almost like a filmed stage play, and it's very clunky at times. This is one of those early sound films that lacks a visual and a rhythmic spark. Miriam Hopkins winds up being more annoying than appealing, and Henry Wadsworth as Bertie spends most of his time onscreen almost falling down drunk. One wishes that at the end of the film Lombard and Charles Starrett wound up together. The one performer in the film that I thought came off the most natural was Ilka Chase (who I know nothing about) as Alice's spitfire of a friend and fellow chorus girl.
Carole Lombard doesn't have all that much to do as Alice, but she does (as expected) look beautiful doing it. Despite the title of the film, I thought that Lombard was a bit restrained here, without her usual spontaneity--but one does have to take into account this was one of her earliest sound features, and she was still developing her freewheeling comedic talents.
Kino presents FAST AND LOOSE in a unusual 1.20:1 aspect ratio. The picture quality is excellent considering the rareness of this title. The sound quality is very uneven, but this is probably due to the recording equipment of the time. In a few scenes the sound level goes up and down when actors move to a different part of the set, and there are times when the dialogue is very hard to hear overall. (At least this disc features subtitles.) The only extras are a few trailers for other Lombard films. FAST AND LOOSE is the only movie in the "Carole Lombard Collection I" that does not have an audio commentary.
FAST AND LOOSE is a very strange choice to be included in this Lombard set. Yes, the movie does feature her, but she's not the main star, and there's nothing particularly notable about the film overall (other than it was Miriam Hopkins' big-screen debut). What's really enticing about this set is the "I" on the box title--hopefully that means more rare early Paramount features starring Carole Lombard. There's still plenty of them that have never been released on home video.