|One Rainy Afternoon (1936)
Run time: 94 min | Comedy
Director: Rowland V. Lee
Writers: Stephen Morehouse Avery, Maurice Hanline
Stars: Francis Lederer, Ida Lupino, Hugh Herbert
A generally silly movie but extremely likable none the less. We are treated to the story of a brash young actor who accidentally kisses the wrong young lady in a darkened theater and causes quite the scandal in doing so. The song “Sweet Rendezvous” was written by Preston Sturges!
Toronto Film Society is back in the theatre! However, we’re still pleased to continue to bring you films straight to your home! Beginning Season 73 until now we have...
When a European setting was considered necessary for a "sophisticated" romantic comedy and a "prestige" production, "One Rainy Night" delivered not only the setting, but also the European screenwriters and even the European lead — Francis Lederer doing a passable Maurice Chevalier-like singing turn. The main plot is a trifle, as is appropriate for romantic comedy. Lederer plays a stage actor who accidentally kisses a stranger (Ida Lupino) in a darkened movie theater, when he thought he was kissing his married lover (billed as Countess Liev de Maigret). Lederer is prosecuted as a masher at the insistence of a public morality committee. At trial, he can't tell the true reason he kissed Lupino, so he says he was overcome by her beauty; the trial makes him a popular celebrity and his stage play a hit, and it starts a romance between Lederer and Lupino.
Lederer is a charming romantic lead and Lupino is radiant in an uncharacteristic early role as a sweet, innocent girl. Unfortunately, they have little chemistry between them, which is the weak point of the movie. But the supporting cast, including the always reliable Roland Young, Hugh Herbert, Donald Meek, Eric Rhodes, and Mischa Auer playing their usual characters, are all given either extended scenes or bits of business that keep the movie light, sparkling, and enjoyable. And Rowland Lee's direction is up to his usual high standard.
In Paris, "Incorrigible Philippe Martin, a rakish actor, has arrived at a darkened movie theater for a tryst with his married girlfriend Yvonne. Everything changes when he accidentally sits in the wrong seat and kisses a beautiful publisher's daughter named Monique. To protect Yvonne in the ensuing scandal, he claims that Monique's beauty was irresistible. Now Monique is intrigued, but her fiancé is anything but happy," according to the fine folks at Mill Creek Entertainment.
This is a mostly unsuccessful romantic comedy from the intriguing production team of Mary Pickford and Jesse L. Lasky. She was, of course, THE film sweetheart last appearing in "Secrets" (1933) and he was the likewise legendary former Paramount Studios boss. "One Rainy Afternoon" was the first of two films from Pickford and Lasky, both starring Ida Lupino. The second was better, but they stopped there. Interestingly, you can see traces of Ms. Pickford in Ms. Lupino's character – these parts look like they might have appealed to Pickford herself. Leading man Francis Lederer receives star-billing, but is lesser remembered today; he was a versatile and convincing actor. Everyone delivers competent, albeit uninspired, work.
Interesting, too, is that two of filmdom's very first popular players appear as uncredited extras. They are Florence Turner and Florence Lawrence, two of the movies' first genuine "STAR" actresses. Popular for several years, they were still big enough to appear in the first annual "Motion Picture Story Magazine" players poll, for 1912; Ms. Lawrence was #8, Ms. Turner was #11, and an up-and-coming Pickford appeared at #12. Pickford passed them in the next year's poll.
**** One Rainy Afternoon (5/13/36) Rowland V. Lee ~ Francis Lederer, Ida Lupino, Hugh Herbert, Roland Young
Middle thirties studio fodder that would be completely forgotten if it didn't have Ida Lupino in one of the star parts. She's very young although starting to move away from the English Jean Harlow mold the studio tried forcing her into when she first arrived. Her voice is still high and light not having yet acquired the smoky whiskey tinge that was to come within a few years. Some fun is provided by two members of the supporting cast, the always reliable Roland Young and the buffoonish Hugh Herbert plus Ida and the forgotten Francis Lederer make an attractive couple but this is a minor romantic comedy nothing more.
Super-attractive Countess Live de Maigret, a big wheel in Hollywood society, made only two movie appearances, of which this is the second. First up was China Seas (1935). Her role in this one is short but important. However, the main intent of the movie is obviously to showcase Francis Lederer and to surround him with an equally talented cast headed by Ida Lupino, Hugh Herbert, Roland Young, Donald Meek, Erik Rhodes and Joseph Cawthorne. Personally, I feel we see a little too much of Mr. Herbert and that he way outdoes his trademark "comic" routines, but I guess you could make the same comment about the other character players as well. Although she has the main female role, I found it slightly annoying that director Roland V. Lee allowed her to be continually upstaged by the character players. This said, however, One Rainy Afternoon is a very agreeable movie with first-rate production values and above all, a sense of fun. Available on a very good Alpha DVD. Don't be put off by the lousy credit titles which seem to have been duped from a dupe of a dupe. The movie itself is very good condition.