Back this week with an actual update, one I've been sitting on for a while now. Another entry from the early '30s, this one pulls out the big gun right up front but doesn't wholly fizzle later. It also boasts two prominent female roles. That's a sad rarity for films from this period. Put your jammies on, This this the Night.
This is the Night – The Film
I've read two different summaries of the plot of this film and am still not entirely sure how all the characters fit together. One thing is certain, there are marriages, both legitimate and sham, and cheating on said marriages. A lady is pretending to be an actress playing someone's fake wife, and a man named Bunny. That latter fact does not make reading plot summaries any easier.
The is the Night – The Furs
Okay, so our designed fur-wearers in this complex little relationship comedy may at least be named. They are Thelma Todd as “Claire” and Lily Damita as “Germaine.” Lily is memorable from one of the other three films she appeared in during 1932: The Match King. She does not fare as well in this film, though.
As alluded to in the opening, This is the Night hits the ground running with one very short exception. This rapid shot happens just before the arrival of Claire, part of a set of shots that build to her appearance.
Appear, Claire does, stepping from the limo in this marvelous white fox-trimmed coat.
The coat's collar and cuffs are the appropriate sizes, namely the sort that makes it hard to tell there are parts that aren't fur.
In the opener, Thelma Todd's character suffers the 1932 version of the “wardrobe malfunction,” where she loses her skirt before the crowd gathered to watch her arrival. The results were a little more demure, as one might expect from the period. She lost a skirt but still had a slip. For those wondering, seeing a lady's slip at that time was rather “scandalous.” What can I say… they didn't have the Internet then.
Fortunately for us, that means an extended limo ride back home where Claire chats with… Bunny. Yep, the thing on the left, that's “Bunny.”
The arrival and return combination provides three and a half minutes to enjoy this lovely white fox-trimmed coat.
Say what you will about the spread of modern 3D films (fine by me); in 1932, single color sequences were the super high-tech gimmick of the day. We get a brief look at the white fox in less blue tint as Claire returns home.
The white fox is the best thing in the film, but not the only thing. Later Thelma Todd appears in more fur trim. This time it seems to be lynx.
The wider shot gives us a better idea of the extent of the trim.
I'm more partial to this close-up, of course.
As you can see, Lily Damita shares some fur in this scene, sadly one that pales in comparison to Thelma's lynx fur trim.
Lily doesn't fare much better later, as my old nemesis returns: ugly-silver-fox-stole-with-bits-still-attached. It's the poison pill of 30's fur fashion.
Finally, near the end, Lily finally gets a lovely-looking fur; sadly, all she does is hold it over her forearm.
As you may hopefully infer, that is a large fox collar, and it's part of a cape or coat that Lily mostly keeps firmly folded over her arm for the entire scene.
One admittedly enjoyable exception is near the end of the scene, where she's hugging it to her body, making for this oddly compelling close-up shot.
Honestly, you can probably give up after the white fox goes away, but the remainder of the film isn't a complete wasteland. Unlike The Awful Truth, there's more fur here and substantial fur in a couple of cases. Granted, Irene Dunne's white fox coat could easily carry the entire film. Though very lovely, Thelma Todd's white fox fur trim can't. I would have liked to have gotten one nice close-up shot of Miss Todd's face wreathed in white fox, but that's the one fur the director of photography chose not to display in close-up.
Fur Runtime: approx 10 minutes
Film Runtime: 80 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 10%