Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Love Is News; That Wonderful Urge

Movie remakes are nothing new, of course, but it’s rare to have a major actor remake one of his earlier successful films. But that’s what happened to Tyrone Power when he starred in “Love Is News” (1937) and it’s remake ”That Wonderful Urge” (1948). Both are pleasant, though hardly earth shattering, entertainment.

“Love Is News” is the better of the two, and takes place in that happy 1930s movie land of rich heiresses, fast talking reporters and even faster talking editors. Contemporary viewers might scoff at its plot, detailing a race among reporters to scoop front page headlines about the romantic adventures of an heiress, but in today’s era where so much ink and cyberspace is devoted to such vapid entities and talentless twits as the Kardashians and Paris Hilton, it doesn’t seen so far-fetched.

The difference here, though, is Antoinette “Tony” Gateson (Loretta Young), one of the richest women in the country, and its most eligible bachelorette, foregoes any publicity about her life and prefers to keep as low a profile as possible. Ace reporter Steve Leyton (Tyrone Power) disguises himself as an airline employee and gains her confidence, and she spills some details about her life while the two enjoy a smoke together.

The ruse is discovered and Tony decides to turn the tables. She tells all the other competing papers that Steve is her fiancée. She gives scoops to the other papers throughout, much to the consternatation of Steve’s editor Martin Canavan (Don Ameche), who hires and fires Steve over the course of the movie.

Of course the couple will eventually come to the conclusion that despite all the bickering, they really do love each other. Both incredibly attractive, Power and Young were a good team, appearing in five films together. It’s too bad that their best film together, the canal building epic “Suez” (1938) has yet to appear on DVD, and I can’t recall it ever showing on the Fox Movie Channel.

George Sanders has a small role as a fortune hunting count in this, his second American movie. His introduction is a delight, first seen in a series of flip images where he’s showing off his profile and then patting his hair down. It’s very amusing.

The careers of Powers and Sanders were interspersed in ways the two men could never have imagined. Sanders came to the attention of the American movie going public in his first American movie “Lloyds of London” (1936). (Is this the only movie ever made about an insurance company?) This was also the film that skyrocketed Power to stardom after a few minor roles.

They would again tangle in two of the best adventure films of the 1940s, “The Black Swan: (1942) and “Son of Fury” (1942). Power and Sanders were filming a dueling sequence for “Solomon and Sheba” (1959) when Power was felled by a fatal heart attack at age 44. Thus, Sanders was with Power at the very beginning of his career and at the very end. Offscreen, Sanders was very much like the haughty characters he played so well and could be dismissive of the roles and pictures he was assigned, but he liked Power and was truly devastated by his premature death.

In addition to Sanders, “Love Is News” boasts a sterling supporting cast, including such favorites as Slim Summerville, Dudley Digges, Walter Catlett, Jane Darwell, Stepin Fetchit (less irritating than usual) and Elisha Cook, Jr.

Those players have it all over the film’s remake, “That Wonderful Urge”, with Power again in the reporter’s role and Gene Tierney taking over the Loretta Young role. Tierney and Power were also a popular team in the 1940s, co-starring in “Son of Fury” and Power’s first assignment following his WWII service, the blockbuster “The Razor’s Edge.” (1946).

Oh, there are some welcome familiar faces on hand here, including Reginald Gardiner, Gene Lockhart and Porter Hall. But they’re playing their roles relatively straight, without the charming eccentricities of the earlier cast. The editor’s role here is played down much more than in the earlier version, and that’s because Lloyd Gough is no Don Ameche.

There is one very funny new scene in the 1948 version, where Power crashes a society party thrown by his “wife”, where he eats peanuts and regales the guests with stories of his 80-year-old West Virigina-born mother, and her encounters with the government when they try to take away her still.

It’s all pleasant enough, but as I said earlier, not particularly memorable. Power would have better luck that year with another comedy, the charming leprechaun comedy “The Luck of the Irish.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Two of Billy Wilder's movies - Double Indemnity and The Apartment; both, as it happens, with the underrated Fred MacMurray - involved insurance companies, though they weren't, of course, about the companies. JVS