Friday, September 2, 2011

Classic Rewind: Love on the Run (1936)

Hot on the heels of the Oscar-winning "It Happened One Night," MGM's 1936 getaway screwball comedy, the plainly titled "Love on the Run," had no false aspirations and made no mistake of its intentions, recycling Clark Gable as a reporter on-the-run with a fleeing young bride. (The other half of Frank Capra's indelible 1934 comedy, Claudette Colbert, would play her part again in the familiar "It's a Wonderful World" just two years later.)
Joan Crawford gets the nod here, playing alongside Gable in the duos seventh on-screen pairing, one of considerable mirth and buffoonery, granting the then 31 year-old actress a delightful, replenishing reprieve from her soggy love triangles and social class dramas. 
The backdrop of a European spy-ring sets the table for this foolishly delectable screwballer which takes not only our two feisty lovebirds over the English Channel and through the French countryside, but also on-the-run from a rival newsman (played by Franchot Tone) and the devious Baron Otto Spandermann, played by Reginald Owen. (William DeMarest, before his terrific work for Preston Sturges, has a small role as a newspaper editor.)
Needless to say, insanity and inanity rule the day, though not without some kooky detours like an overnight stay at the apparently empty Palace of Fontainbleau where Gable and Crawford role-play as King Louie and Maria Theresa. "Who is it?" Crawford pokes after a few knocks on the door to her palace chamber, "King Louis," Gable responds. "Which one?" "Pick a number between one and fourteen," he cracks in one of the films many jaunty, quick-witted jabs. [B+]

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