Production Company: Hecht-MacArthur Productions, Paramount
Top Billed Actors: Noël Coward, Julie Haydon, Stanley Ridges
IMDb Rating: 6.7
*Exclusive Award Winner*
Won 1 Oscar:
Best Writing (Story) - Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur
Nominated for 0 more
Plot: A smug a-hole is to women like honey is to a bee. However, nobody is remorseful of his death so he appears SOL in the afterlife.
How does the writing hold up? What I like most about it is the dialogue. The movie won for Best Story, but there are so many individual lines that elicited an audible response from me. Coward's cocky demeanor is perfect for lines such as, "I refuse to discuss anything with a woman who cries in advance," and "I call anyone who is clever enough to see through me, my friend." It's this sharp and somewhat unnatural dialogue that gives the movie character. Every scene is about Coward's character in some way and it becomes compelling to anticipate what will be said next. But one can never guess just how the characters will express their opinions on Coward, who is described by one of his "friends," not as a person, but as an attitude.
How does the story hold up? Not as good as I hoped. The premise is intriguing enough but the execution does not do it justice. Coward's character doesn't die until late in the rather short 76 minute affair. There were certain sequences that showed a lot of promise in the final third of the movie, but kind of falls flat, especially the conclusion. The acting by most actors, including Coward, is also subpar. Coward uses an extremely outdated acting style (which surprisingly is not present in every feature at this time) in which he rolls his "R's." Perhaps this is a British style as he is from the UK. I seem to remember Charles Laughton doing this in earlier entries of the Project.
Overall, this diversion from the Best Picture nominees is still worth a watch. The smug and self described 'mean' nature of Coward's character is fun to see interact with his colleagues and girlfriends. The outdated acting and abrupt third act might be too much of a hindrance.
My Score: 6/10