Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Gentlemen are Born (1934)

After several years of endless searching, wishing, and hoping, I was finally able to see the 1934 film Gentlemen are Born! Turner Classic Movies aired the film in January. I don't have cable television at the moment, but I was able to subscribe to SlingTV so that I could watch it on-demand before it disappeared...and I did, 5 times in one week! Gentlemen are Born immediately shot up to a top spot in my favorite films list and I hope it will be released on DVD in the near future. (Pretty please, Warner Archive!)

Franchot Tone and Ross Alexander

Four optimistic college graduates go out into the world expecting their hard work, excellent grades, and good behavior to pay off. Bob Bailey (Franchot Tone) is an aspiring newspaper reporter who has fallen for his friend's sister Joan (Margaret Lindsay), a girl who is accustomed to the finer things in life. Architect Tom Martin (Ross Alexander) makes ends meet to support his new bride Trudy (Jean Muir) and their quickly expanding family. Smudge Johnson (Dick Foran) is eager to be a school athletic coach, but is turned down over and over. To pay the bills and provide for his new bride Susan (Ann Dvorak), Smudge succumbs to petty crime. Fred Harper (Robert Light) is the only one of the four friends who exits college to instantly find a well-paying job in his father's successful firm...but there are secrets within the firm that Fred will sadly discover.

Franchot Tone and Margaret Lindsay

Franchot's character Bob is the glue in this group. He's the one who is always there when happiness (Tom's engagement) and tragedy (a suicide) strikes. The three other men all confide in Bob when life gets tough. This is now one of my favorite of Franchot's early performances. As usual, he is able to deftly play the part with sincerity and sensitivity, while displaying a knack for comedy in the right spots.

All of the cast members work really well together and the story truly draws you in and tugs on your heartstrings.  I especially enjoyed seeing Franchot work with Ross Alexander and Ann Dvorak in their scenes together. This is a story that is as timely today as it was in 1934. You'll identify with these characters, see yourself or someone you know in their storylines. It's a beautifully written, well executed film about the struggle of entering the "real world" after college. Like I've mentioned, Gentlemen Are Born is a pretty tough movie to track down and watch, but I sincerely hope you are able to catch it sometime or better yet, that it is released on DVD ASAP.

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