Are you familiar with Marion Davies? Somehow she has escaped the fame bestowed upon certain actresses and, truth be told, I have zero idea WHY. Certain stars (Claire Trevor, Linda Darnell, Barry Fitzgerald, Anne Sheridan, George Sanders…) are known to those of us who swim regularly in Old Hollywood’s beautiful waters but the average Joe or Joy wouldn’t be able to put a face with the name if they had to.
Again… I have no idea why this is, all I know is that it is. Some leap to new heights of fame and some never leave the ground. What’s most bewildering is when (like the names listed above) they’re easily as talented as those who are household names. Heck, some are far more so.
I could park right here and talk two forevers about this very subject, but I have a movie I’m in love with that I’d love to tell you about.
Hearts Divided (1936) is, like our beloved stars mentioned, a movie that is under the radar but infinitely worthy of attention.
If you follow me on Twitter (my personal account @JoiTaniaSigers or my new Hollywood Yesterday Account, @HollywoodYeste1) or read many of my reviews, I am ALL ABOUT chemistry between co-stars. I have seen movies made and movies unmade all by chemistry, alone. Some don’t put much stock in the chemistry phenomenon, but that’s okay, I’ve bought all the stock.
Dick Powell and Marion Davies are the very definition of romantic chemistry and they flaunt it but good in this entertaining movie.
Before jumping to the plot – a few quick words about Marion Davies. You will notice that I don’t (yet) have much about this lovely actress on Hollywood Yesterday. Why? She’s new to me! It’s bizarre to imagine, but EVEN when you’ve spent your life watching classics, you will still come across an actor or actress who is new to you. Sometimes the acquaintance is nonchalant, other times (as in this case), they quickly become a favorite and you set out to see everything they ever made!
Ironically, at this point in time, I have two fairly similar actresses (Marion Davies and Claire Trevor) who are new favorites. They have both plowed onto my list of favorites, so you’ll be hearing a lot more about them.
Plot: Hoping to further negotiations (and scrounge up money for his war efforts) in the United States, Napoleon (portrayed masterfully by the ridiculously talented and versatile Claude Rains) sends his brother Jerome (Dick Powell) to the States. Jerome shows up at a Maryland Horse Track and meets Betsy (Marion Davies). He falls for the charming beauty almost immediately but she doesn’t want much to do with him. Maybe it’s because she already has enough suitors – Henry (Charles Ruggles), John (hilariously portrayed by Edward Everett Horton) and Harry (portrayed by the wonderful comedic actor Arthur Treacher).
Although Betsy is aloof (at first), fate has other plans. Jerome gets the honor of teaching her French and she soon returns the love he feels for her. Her well-to-do family frowns on the situation because, well… he’s just a tutor!
As is his style, Napoleon looms large and attempts to ruin everything when he insists that Jerome return and marry into European Royalty. He uses the “do what’s best for France” argument to get to Jerome AND Betsy.
As is the case with all of my movie and book reviews, I have no intention of ruining anything for you, so I won’t give anything away. Another trademark of my movie reviews is keeping things short and sweet. I swear, I’ve read some reviews that seemed to last longer than the actual movie. Personally, I’d rather simply give you a quick preview, tell you what I think about it and let you get back to your life.
So this is where I simply encourage you to find the movie, watch the movie, and love the movie!
Hearts Divided Trivia and Tidbits
- Dick Powell was given the role at the request of Marion Davies.
- Arthur Treacher (Harry) is best-known as a frequent star in Shirley Temple movies. He also portrayed the Constable in Mary Poppins.
- I am convinced Claude Rains (Napoleon) could have played any role with the believability of me portraying myself. You will remember him as Captain Louis Renault (Casablanca), Caesar (opposite Vivien Leigh in Caesar and Cleopatra, 1945), Prince John (The Adventures of Robin Hood, 1938), Senator Joseph Paine (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington), and, of course, The Invisible Man (The Invisible Man, 1933).
- Dick Powell (who, himself, was a wonderful actor) is one of the people associated with the 1956 film The Conqueror who happened to die from cancer. Many believe it is no coincidence that so many involved with this movie met the same fate, as the Conqueror was filmed near a nuclear test site in Utah. In addition to Powell (who directed the movie), actors John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Ted de Corsia, and Agnes Moorehead each died from cancer. However, in a 2001 interview with Larry King, Powell’s widow June Allyson said she believed he died from lung cancer because he was a chain-smoker.
- Marion Davies was as apparently kind as she was beautiful . She had a well-known reputation in the film industry for being extremely kind to the casts and crews of her films. She was even known to pay hospital bills anonymously if she heard that they were sick.
- Your best bet for catching this charming movie is probably TCM. As I’ve often mentioned, I collect dvds, books, and memorabilia (especially of my favorite stars). I CANNOT find this dvd anywhere! Unfortunately it isn’t available full-length on YouTube either.