This week’s mystery movie has been the 1931 RKO picture “Consolation Marriage,” with Irene Dunne, Pat O’Brien, John Halliday, Myrna Loy, Lester Vail and Matt Moore. It was produced by William LeBaron, directed by Paul Sloane, with scenery and costumes by Max Ree, photography by J. Roy Hunt, written by Bill Cunningham and screenplay and dialogue by Humphrey Pearson. Musical direction was by Max Steiner,
It’s available on DVD from Warner Archive for $21.99.
“Consolation Marriage” opened Oct. 15, 1931, in a premiere at the Carthay Circle Theater (RIP) with an ad campaign that proclaimed Irene Dunne a new star.
(Notice among the list of guests: Roscoe Arbuckle).
Writing in the Los Angeles Times (Oct. 17, 1931), film critic Philip K. Scheuer said:
“Consolation Marriage,” a talking film of the “program” genre, is the one selected for the solo-launching of Irene Dunne as an actress to be reckoned with. It is an ingratiating little effort, one which deliberately avoids melodramatic cliches, and in spite of a tendency to hold every scene long past the breaking point, will probably keep you in focus. Women, especially, will dote on it…..
Miss Dunne’s starring debut could have been more fortuitously made. She impresses as a nice girl, gracious and reserved, with possibilities still to be tested. Pat O’Brien resumes the role of newspaper man he created for “The Front Page,” but minus the energy and virility he displayed in that picture.
Ricardo Cortez introduced the cast after the performance, which included several selections by the Carthay Circle Orchestra, a travelogue of Death Valley, a Fox Movietone newsreel and a Silly Symphony.
Mordaunt Hall, writing in the New York Times (Oct. 30, 1931), said:
A gentle little romance, with brightly written dialogue for the sympathetic characters and lines that are not so well penned for the unsympathetic ones, reached the Mayfair screen last night. It is known as “Consolation Marriage” and it was directed by Paul Sloane from a story by Bill Cunningham.
There are several chapters that are very effective, but the effort to reach a happy ending is somewhat forced, with the convenient coincident and the somewhat abrupt conclusions of Mary, played by Irene Dunne, and Steve Porter, acted by Pat O’Brien. Nevertheless, it succeeds in coming in the category of good entertainment.
For Monday, we have a mystery gent.
Update: This is Robert Homans.
For Tuesday, we have an elegant gent sitting at the piano. He has been serenading our leading lady, who will appear later in the week.
Update: This is Lester Vail, who made one more picture. He was active on Broadway, directing the original production of “Chicken Every Sunday” (1944-1945) and appeared on episodic television shortly before his death in 1959.
For Wednesday, we have a mystery woman. The leading lady has been cropped out, but will appear Friday.
Update: This is Gertrude Howard, who died in 1934.
Brain Trust roll call: Mike Hawks (mystery movie and Tuesday’s mystery guest).
And for Thursday, a somewhat mysterious gent, also at the piano.
Update: This is John Halliday.
Brain Trust roll call: Mike Hawks (Wednesday’s mystery guest) and Mary Mallory (mystery movie and Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s mystery guests).
As promised, for Friday we have our leading lady and leading man, but also….
Update: This is Irene Dunne and Pat O’Brien.
…. oh my. Life is full of complicated choices for our leading man.
Update: This is Pat O’Brien and Myrna Loy.
Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie and mystery guests), Benito (Thursday’s mystery guest and his better-known role), Mary Mallory (Thursday’s mystery guest), Don Danard (Thursday’s mystery guest) and Sheila (Thursday’s mystery guest).