“How I wish that I were as nice as you think I am.”
Ruthless, womanizing publisher Anthony Mallare (Noel Coward) falls in love with a young poet (Julie Haydon), then abandons her for another woman. When he is killed in a plane accident, Mallare’s ghost is given one month to find someone who will shed a tear for him, and he rests all his hope on Haydon.
Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this “mix of Broadway satire and outright fantasy” by writer/director team Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur “looks great” and “has exceptional dialogue”. Unlike Peary, however, I’m less impressed by the overall screenplay, which shifts from a “supersophisticated script” into a far-fetched fantasy with a “simple, tear-jerking ending”. I much prefer the first two-thirds of the film, in which Mallare — played with wonderful panache by Coward (he should have done more screen acting!) — is snide and bitchy; because he’s so upfront about his love-’em-and-leave-’em attitude towards relationships, it’s difficult to feel much sympathy for Haydon (though we like her as well). Once Mallare dies and starts wandering the Earth, the story’s delicious bite fades away, as does much of our enjoyment. Nonetheless, this hard-to-find film remains worth watching at least once, if you can locate a copy.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Noel Coward as Anthony Mallare
- Julie Haydon as Cora Moore
- Lee Garmes’ cinematography
- Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s witty, clever dialogue: “She’s the only woman I’ve ever met who seems shallower and more superficial than I am. It’ll be a perfect match: two empty paper bags, belaboring each other.”
Yes, simply for Coward’s excellent performance.