BluRay/DVD Reviews

HER MAJESTY LOVE (Warner Archives)

By • Feb 17th, 2016 •

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DVD review by Roy Frumkes

An instant remake of a popular German flick helmed by Joe May, this version is directed by stylish fave William (A PORTRAIT OF JENNIE, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER, ELEPHANT WALK) Dieterle, who, of course, was German, and his recreation of the days and nights of Weimar abandon that comprise act one are beautifully staged, technically giddy, and heart-felt (though from what I’ve read, those days and nights in the Berlin cabarets were far more decadent than even pre-code Hollywood would consider depicting on screen.) In fact, that breathless first act is the best material in the film. After that we get a complicated, satisfying, but somewhat more standard love story in which bartender Marilyn Miller does a love-at-first-sight thing to Ben Lyons, a wealthy lad from a higher social rung, and his family endeavors to derail the romance, but eventually…

I was smitten by Marilyn Miller. What a lovely, real personality. Where’d she been all my film-going life? Then I read up on her, and OMG, what a good actor she was – because in real life, apparently, she was profoundly difficult, self-destructive, and, perhaps co-incidentally, died young of a sinus infection? She really didn’t do much film work, so it’s fortunate we have her in a little flurry like this; she’s really worth the trip, and this was her last.

Incidentally, I’m apparently not the only one to have gone gaga over Ms. Miller. Check out the supplemental trailer. Over a close-up of her sweet face enrobed in twin hearts that cross as they slide from one side of the screen to the other, the emboldened title copy states: MARILYN MILLER – GIVING YOU SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR. That’s a helluva pitch, and I don’t know if I would have taken it quite that far, but I certainly feel she warrants genuine praise for being able to slip off the screen and ingratiate herself with audience members as if she were alive and one of them.

Also in the film are some silent film stars who are good to see again, two only for near-cameos, disappointingly under-used: Ford Sterling and Chester Conklin make these brief, invisible appearances. Leon Errol has a more substantial part and milks it. The one who isn’t wasted…is in fact marvelous in a very early talkie appearance, is W.C. Fields. He’s already got his act together (including his gift for juggling), and seeing him here is kind of like seeing Mae West in NIGHT AFTER NIGHT — in for a few days’ work, just long enough to steal the show.

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