I had the pleasure of watching our Star of the Month, Merle Oberon in two classic comedies: The Divorce of Lady X (1938) and That Uncertain Feeling (1941).
*This post includes GIF images*
(Based on the 1880 play, Divorçons, by Victorien Sardou and Émile de Najac)
"Against her better judgement, happily married Jill Baker (Merle Oberon) is persuaded to see a popular psychoanalyst about her psychosomatic hiccups. Soon, she's disillusioned about husband Larry (Melvyn Douglas); and one day in the doctor's waiting room she meets pianist Alexander Sebastian (Burgess Meredith), who's even more confused than she is. Can this marriage be saved? Larry has a plan that is pure [Ernst] Lubitsch..."
I first watched That Uncertain Feeling when I was a teenager. Because this movie is now in the Public Domain, we (meaning my mom) were able to purchase it out of the one-dollar DVD bin of a store. I remember enjoying the film then for its comedy and its glamorous look (fashion, set design, etc.), but I really enjoyed it in my most recent viewing. I guess age has allowed me to understand and relate to the story more I did before.
|Melvyn Douglas co-starred as 'Larry', Jill's husband|
There isn't much I can say about this movie. It's your quintessential screwball comedy featuring beautiful people with quirky traits and mannerisms. While you always know what to expect when it comes to a screwball comedy (again, quirkiness, battles-of-the-sexes, an injury or two), each of them still managed to be extremely unique in its storyline. That Uncertain Feeling was no different.
Funny Moment from the Film:
Fact: Merle Oberon turned 30 years old in 1941. The character of 'Jill', however is 25--later in the film, she tells a psychologist that she married 'Larry' when she was 19 and that they'd been married for six years.
(The second film adaptation of Gilbert Wakefield's play, Counsel's Opinion)
"Divorce lawyer Everard Logan (Laurence Olivier) thinks the woman who spent the night in his hotel room (Merle Oberon) is the erring wife of his new client (Ralph Richardson)."
It took awhile for me to get into this movie. Typical of a screwball comedy, Merle appears as a "Lady X", a (seemingly) flighty woman and Sir Laurence Olivier plays the role of a stuffy young lawyer named Everard Logan. It starts out pretty annoying--Lady X is a pest and Logan is stiff to the point of being insulting and insensitive (particularly to women). However, as the movie unfolds, the lead characters' layers unfold right along with it, leading us into a sweet and enjoyable film. If you're like me, you'll find yourself scoffing and gasping in the first half, and grinning to yourself in the second.
Funny Moment from the Film:
|Everard makes his exit...|
Merle Oberon, the Comedic Actress?
I wouldn't call Merle Oberon a "comedic actress". She was simply an actress who worked well in whatever genre was popular in a certain period (think Joan Crawford's ability to evolve through the "flapper" films, the romantic dramas, film noirs, and later, the thrillers). If anything, while she did make me laugh in both of these movies, her dramatic moments always tended to outshine her comedic. With that said, I look forward to watching her dramatic pictures next!