24 Hours: Glamour and Style with No Substance

2016-07-25 24 Hours

Sketches from the beautiful but dull pre-Code film, 24 Hours, about a bored wealthy couple who beat a murder rap and rekindle their flame-proof romance.

Kay Francis and Clive Brook as the Towners, whose lives are shaken up when the husband’s lover is murdered and he’s the prime suspect. (The wife has a lover, too. It’s pre-Code–fair’s fair.) They live beautifully, drink profusely, dress to the nines, but are so miserable, they can’t muster the energy to even quarrel. The energy comes in with Rosie, the nightclub singer played by Miriam Hopkins, Towner’s squeeze who is strangled by her jealous gangster husband. It was his second killing that night (he had energy, too!). The story is weak, Towner is a downer, but at least it’s beautifully shot. I focused my sketches on Francis and Brook because they looked like beautiful Jazz Age illustrations: all drama, style and glamour. The real study would be Miriam Hopkins–maybe next time. I think I’d need to do gif for her.

Brook was better in von Sternberg’s Underworld (1927), mainly for the earlier part when he was a down-and-out drunk and the end when he shows his boss what integrity is. (Integrity is when you want to steal the boss’s best girl, but you will rescue him from a police shoot-out anyway.) Brook does longing well enough, but he is leaden when it comes to playing a lover. Maybe they thought that was noble back then. I’ll pass.

Francis was beautiful but lugubrious. I haven’t seen her in anything else. I haven’t seen Miriam Hopkins before either, but I’ll be looking for a chance to see more of her work. She seemed very modern in this film.

The DP for 24 Hours was Ernie Haller whose work included Captain Blood, Jezebel, Dark Victory, Gone with the Wind, Mildred Pierce, Rebel Without a Cause, Whatever Happened to baby Jane? and one Star Trek episode (Where No Man Has Gone Before). No wonder it’s beautiful!

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