pseudopodium
. . . The Feminine Touch

. . .

Movie Comment: The Green-Eyed One
 
The Feminine
Touch
 
I don't get jealousy.

While in non-monogamous sexual associations, I admit to a certain queasiness when faced with evidence of other male consorts, but this seems mere homophobic besmirchment by proxy, and easily overcome. Similarly, I'd prefer that everyone pay exclusive (although not in a critical way, please!) attention to me at parties, but that's simple egocentricity, familiar from year two of life onwards.

At any rate, it seems unrootoutably obvious to me that one either wants to be in a monogamous relationship or one doesn't, and that once one party decides not to be then the monogamous relationship is over: punkt!

This blind spot results, I suspect, from such character flaws as undue fatalism and overreliance on binary oppositions. And so it would logically follow that a jealous person should be more forgiving and more optimistic than myself, since they must assume some possibility that their monogamous relationship can coexist with nonmonogamous impulses in their partner.

Sheep Slaughter But this appears not to be the case.

It's all very puzzling.

And, although its topic is jealousy (far more centrally than, say, Bringing Up Baby's topic is dinosaurs), The Feminine Touch provides little insight.

Instead, as a post-1930s Hollywood comedy, it must devote all its ponderous energy to proving that every human being without exception exactly matches Hollywood stereotypes of behavior.

Like so: Fist-flailing jealousy is an infallible and essential sign of love, and its unnatural absence inevitably leads to rudeness and perversity.

The unfortunate lead gears in these creaking plot mechanics are given little room for play. Don Ameche is much more convincingly fatuous than convincingly brilliant or charming; Rosalind Russell, miscast as an uneducated nestbuilder, only comes alive when fending off unwanted advances.

But things pick up considerable when the movie shifts to Manhattan and the urbane secondary-but-more-interesting axis of the quadrangle (and then falls flat again and forever when it shifts to God's country where men are dopes and women are dopes). Goateed Van Heflin, playing an indolent insecurity-flaunting publisher, herein founds the Woody Allen School of Seduction with a welcome dollop of aplomb.

Kay Fwancis knows Kay Fwancis tells And, as the unrewarded sharpwit of his outfit, fixed highest in the movie's firmanent is Kay Francis in one of her last star parts. Clownishly clothed and drastically underlit, she bathes each dim scene in silvery melancholy, her "r"-less speech defect a persistent admission of the gulf between wisdom and power. Only set in such a labored farce could passivity seem so compelling....

You'd have to be crazy not to lunge at her -- to save her or save yourself, it's hard to tell the difference -- but in this sadly diminished version of the world, the only character who does is Rosalind Russell. And not for the sensible reason, either.

Recommendation: Show up late, leave early, and don't expect to be able to perform Othello any better afterwards.

 

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Public domain work remains in the public domain.
All other material: Copyright 2015 Ray Davis.