Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Film Flashback: Design For Living

When longtime friends Tom and George (Frederic March and Gary Cooper) meet Gilda (Miriam Hopkins), a young fireball of an advertising artist, on a train to Paris, there’s a barbed chemistry between the three.  Gilda quickly falls in with both men, seeing them without the other’s knowledge.  Of course, when this is revealed, the three do the only logical thing – take up residence together platonically.  Tom is a yet-unproduced playwright, struggling to finish “Good Night, Bassington,” and George is a fledgling painter.  Gilda decides its her task to bring out the best in them both, declaring herself a “mother of the arts” and opting to nurture their creative pursuits – by continually telling them their work is terrible until they’ve made it wonderful.

Based on the play by Noel Coward, “Design For Living” is filled with sharp dialogue, provided by screenwriter Ben Hecht, and some great bits of physical comedy that still manage to feel subtle within the film.  Rather risqué for its time (the film was released in 1933), “Design For Living” certainly paved the way for the likes of “Jules and Jim” and “Vicky Christina Barcelona.”  With its focus on just a few characters and snappy punchlines, the film feels as sleek as its well-heeled protagonists.

“Design For Living” plays at the Paramount Theatre Wednesday, July 24 at 7PM.

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