Monday, November 5, 2012

The Easiest Way (1931)

Laura (Constance Bennett) is a poor girl who must work to support her large family.  She tolerates her position at a department store, but is excited to accept an offer of modeling at an advertising agency, where she befriends veteran model Elfie (Marjorie Rambeau) and attracts the attentions of the agency's owner Will Brockton (Adolphe Menjou).  She soon becomes Brockton's mistress, and easily adjusts to her newly elegant lifestyle.  However this causes rifts between her family when both Laura's mother (Clara Blandick) and her sister Peg's (Anita Page) husband Nick (Clark Gable) look down on Laura for her choices.  While vacationing in Colorado, Laura meets reporter Jack Madison (Robert Montgomery) and the two fall in love.  She promises to leave Brockton and be true to Jack until he returns from an assignment in South America, but circumstances change when her situation becomes desperate in his absence.

The Easiest Way is a neat little pre-code memorable for its solid cast performances, quick-paced storyline, and notable instances of striking camerawork.

Sophisticated Constance Bennett is lovely, convincing, and sympathetic as the conflicted Laura.  I’ve really enjoyed finding and watching many of her pre-codes recently.  Although Robert Montgomery’s screen time is limited, he does well with his part.  The two make an attractive couple!  I also really liked Clark Gable, showing great promise in his supporting role.  Marjorie Rambeau is excellent as Laura’s friend Elfie.

The plot, like many pre-codes of the era, is short and racy, though surprisingly with a touch of sadness as well.  Laura’s life didn’t turn out at all like as expected -- and although the film does end on a hopeful note, I was slightly disappointed because I would have preferred a more definite resolution.

Be sure to notice some of the picture’s unique shots -- I especially liked the ones on location in Colorado.

♥ ♥ ♥ ½

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