Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Susan and God

(1940, USA, 117m, b/w)
d George Cukor p Hunt Stromberg sc Anita Loos ph Robert H. Planck ed William H. Terhune ad Cedric Gibbons m Herbert Stothart cast Joan Crawford, Frederic March, Ruth Hussey, Rita Quigley, John Carroll, Rita Hayworth, Nigel Bruce, Bruce Cabot, Rose Hobart, Constance Collier

Shrill socialite Susan Trexler returns from Europe full of the joys of evangelism and quite spoils her chums’ weekend house party with her insistence on sorting out their relationships. It’s her own that needs attention, of course, and her estranged but besotted alcoholic husband Barry (March) convinces her to spend the summer with him and their ugly-duckling daughter, promising divorce if he falls off the wagon. The ensemble scenes are directed with typical Cukor verve and strong support, and the piece’s stage origins are less problematic than the fact that Crawford is on fine form and her Susan quite unbearable, spreading an air of mania over the whole film that fatally undermines viewing pleasure; March’s devotion to his awful wife remains unfathomable, and his friendship with sweet Ruth Hussey is a far happier prospect for all concerned, thwarted by a rushed and unsatisfactory denouement.

© Time Out Film Guide

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