Monday, August 4, 2008

Reducing (1931) - Film Review

Plot Summary - Comedy/melodrama starring Marie Dressler and Polly Moran as two sisters, Marie and Polly, who haven't seen each other in years - now hard-up for cash, Marie and her family travel from South Bend to New York to stay with sis Polly, who runs a successful beauty parlor business. Marie's family including husband Elmer, beautiful twentyish daughter Vivian (Anita Page), and two rambunctious young boys are plenty loud and cause lots of havoc and typical filmland trouble in the upper berths they are sharing on the train. On arrival, Polly's stuck-up daughter Joyce (Sally Eilers) thinks her relations are "awful people" and soon Marie and Polly are living together, working together, bickering and quarreling to the breaking point. The film takes a turn for the more melodramatic when real trouble comes between the two daughters in the form of Joyce's rich playboy boyfriend who meets Vivian one evening and is soon in hot pursuit of her.

Review - This film is light entertainment, a fun watch featuring quite a bit of slapstick in the earlier scenes followed by some more serious melodrama later in the film. The "reducing parlor" that Polly runs includes a bevy of quack treatments and contraptions not limited to a reducing track, mud bath, electric belt, steam cabinet, plaster treatments, salt baths, cold showers - and of course, an opening shot of the parlor featuring a blonde exercising in a "reducing belt" - oh what fun! Marie Dressler has a face so full of expression in this, she's really entertaining to watch - she and Polly Moran have a chemistry together that makes them seem like real (yes quarrelsome) sisters. Actress Anita Page, who goes back to the silent era, is a lovely and appealing star who is still living, and today just happened to be her 98th birthday! Rating - 7 stars

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