Private Lives (MGM)
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Top Customer Reviews
The movie version is "opened up" considerably from the play; screenwriter Hans Kraly threw everything from train trips to mountain-climbing into Coward's two-set comedy. Kraly missed the point Coward was making: that Elyot and Amanda's world is themselves alone. Staging some of their famous fights in public made them look pathetically in need of professional help, not inextricably bound to one another.
Kraly was required to do some violence to the play's text by way of studio-mandated censorship. Coward had motivated his characters by giving Elyot and Amanda dialogue with a keen erotic edge, much of which Kraly was obliged to remove. With so much of the sexual charge gone, the remaining words felt like little more than disagreements between two unsympathetic people.
Shearer also suffered from the casting of Robert Montgomery as Elyot. His performance is clockwork, remembering every line and bit of business, hitting every mark, but never finding Amanda necessary as life itself. Shearer was often able to transcend her lack of training if she was playing to a deeply talented actor, and it's too bad she didn't have that blessing on this film.
The supporting cast was uneven; Una Merkel has a weird, grainy accent that slides loopily between transatlantic hoity-toity and Southern belle, and she joins Montgomery in playing by the numbers.Read more ›
I had expectations about this particular film and they were surpassed by the top-notch material. Norma Shearer looks radiant and is much better suited to this kind of comedic roles than to dramatic ones, in which she sometimes tends to overact (for instance, in "Strange Interlude" a flawed but still worthwhile film).
"Private Lives" must contain one of Norma's best performances ever; she's fresh, lively, with lots of spunk, mischievous, fierce, determined, stubborn, flirtatious, a joy! Bob Montgomery is excellent as her counterpart and probably this is the best of their five pairings. Witty, delightful and sophisticated dialogue; the leads also handle in an excellent way physical comedy, near the conclusion of the film.
Reginald Denny and Una Merkel are very good as their respective new spouses.
Top production values and first class treatment by the MGM gloss. Sidney Fraklin's direction is deft and the pacing is great.
I will await this movie's reissue on DVD with feverish hope and anticipation...
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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I can't recall one film with Norma that I disliked prior to this movie. Read more
This is a tale of Amanda (Norma Shearer) and Elyot (Robert Montgomery) who really care for each other but are divorced and re-married to others. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Rama Rao
One of Norma Shearer's best sound films. Was fun to watch through out. Fine acting by all. Fast paced with a witty script. MGM at it's best. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Rene Krammer
Norma Shearer and Robert Montgomery are perfectly cast in this 1931 screen version of the famous play by Noel Coward about a battling couple who can't live with or without each... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Thomas J Lombardo
Poor resolution. Also, it is not in color like you might think from the cover.Published 23 months ago by Amazon Customer
There was also another Robert..Robert Taylor..who also did a few movies with her also..and they were pretty good also,I would say that a few of her best screen partners besides... Read morePublished on May 28, 2014 by Victoria R.Remington
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