Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Viewing: The Jewel Robbery, 1932

Warner Brothers Pictures
Director William Dieterle had the good sense to reunite popular onscreen couple William Powell and Kay Francis for his 1932 comedy, The Jewel Robbery. The film would mark the fifth of seven collaborations between the two stars. Powell initially rejected the film, preferring to stay at home with his new bride Carole Lombard. He also wasn’t keen on playing another “ladies man,” but the appeal of the script and the thought of working with Kay Francis again intrigued him. With his elegant appeal, William Powell was exactly the kind of man audiences wanted to see in the early 1930’s. Similarly Kay Francis with her exotic beauty and excellent fashion sense depicted the sort of aristocratic woman who could make the audience forget about their troubled lives.

William Powell
Warner Brothers Pictures
Powell plays, “The Robber” in this comic caper. The Robber, as he explains, doesn’t care for the American “Shoot-em-up” style of theft. He studied in Paris where one learned a far more elegant method of thievery. While robbing an upmarket jewelry store, The Robber encounters Baroness Teri von Horhenfels—a bored society woman who alleviates her ennui by taking on a series of lovers (seemingly with the knowledge and consent of her older husband). Teri, her husband, and current fling have gone to the shop to purchase her a diamond—something they all hope will put her in better spirits. Teri is intrigued by The Robber, especially after he subdues the guard with a “special cigarette” (an early and scandalous mention of marijuana).

What follows is a humorous and exciting look at a dishonest man who’s fighting his honest intentions and a dishonest woman who doesn’t really care too much about being honest. Joined in this escapade by Helen Vinson and Alan Mowbray, Powell and Francis deliver excellent performances.

Francis and Vinson
Warner Brothers Pictures
It’s worth watching the film for the visual aspect alone. With perfect 1930’s sets and costumes, you’ll really feel transported to another time. I’d highly recommend this very enjoyable picture.  Unfortunately, it's not available on DVD.  However, Turner Classic Movies does show the film from time-to-time, so keep your eyes open.

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