Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thursday Kisses - Eternally Yours (1939) - starring David Niven and Loretta Young

Echoing the debonair adventurousness of  William Powell's Nick Charles, today's feature finds David Niven in the starring role of a stage magician/escape artist whose greatest trick may turn out to be reclaiming the love of his wife. Unfortunately, like most echoes, Niven's portrayal lacks both the sharpness and lushness (in all senses of the word) found in the Thin Man series. And Loretta Young, who plays Niven's wife/onstage assistant lacks the fire and wit of Myrna Loy's Nora.

Of course, this really isn't a fair comparison, because we never actually get to see Niven and Young react to poisonings, theft, or kidnappings. Instead, the problems faced by this couple are both more simple and more complicated, for it turns out that while Niven's Arturo lives for the stage, the travelling, and the thrill, Young's Anita longs for a simpler life... or at least so she thinks. She has even sold some jewelry given to her by her husband in order to build a home in the country where the two can finally settle down. True conflict comes, however, when Arturo's latest stunt, jumping from a plane with his hands cuffed behind his back and having to escape from them so he can pull the ripcord on his parachute, proves not only successful, but an immense hit, and he is offered a two year contract to travel the world and put on his act. Realising that they simply want two different things from life and that Arturo is never going to settle down, Anita leaves him and eventually remarries.

This, of course, puts Arturo's life and act on the skids and he is eventually reduced to performing mind reading and hypnotism tricks at private parties. When he happens to be hired by the boss of Anita's new husband to perform at his winter retreat, a chance meeting of the two shows that the spark of their love is still there. The question though, is what can be done, since no matter how the two may feel, Anita is now married to another man. All of this climaxes when an out-of-practice Arturo is scheduled to perform his handcuff-parachute escape at the 1939 New york World's Fair, only to show up and find that the plane he was planning to use has been changed and he no longer has his secreted lockpick. Will Arturo find some way out of his predicament, or will Anita wind up declaring her true love to a greasy spot on the ground?

Lightweight yet engaging, this romantic comedy finds all of its players in fine form. Niven is, of course, quite dashing, and Young plays well off of him. Broderick Crawford plays Anita's new husband, a man who basically finds himself battered on every front and swept up in events over which he has little control. C. Aubrey Smith portrays Anita's father (a bishop!) and practically steals every scene he is in.

Like so many of these films, a proper trailer is not available online, but here's the first few minutes of it just to give you a taste of this fine little film:

Now for the skinny:
Title: Eternally Yours
Release Date: 1939
Running Time: 95 min.
Starring: Loretta Young, David Niven, Broderick Crawford
Director: Tay Garnett
Producers: Tay Garnett, Walter Wanger
Distributed by: United Artists

Eternally Yours is available for free for viewing or download here.
It's also available on DVD from Amazon: Eternally Yours.
And it's available for rental from Netflix: Eternally Yours

Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting,
-Professor Damian


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