Throwback Thursday – Eternally Yours (1939)

Between this blog and my previous one, Professor Damian’s Public Domain Treasure Chest, I’ve been writing about movies for quite a while now. Because of that, there are a lot of posts that have simply gotten lost to the mists of time. So, I figured I’d use the idea of “Throwback Thursday” to spotlight some of those older posts, re-presenting them pretty much exactly as they first appeared except for updating links where necessary or possible, and doing just a bit of re-formatting to help them fit better into the style of this blog. Hope you enjoy these looks back.

I’ll admit that I don’t cover that many straight-up romance movies on this blog simply because they tend not to be my cup of Earl Grey. However, for a while on The Professor’s blog, when I was dedicating each day of the week to a different genre, Thursdays were called “Thursday Kisses day” and that, of course meant we went straight for the heart. Therefore I decided that Throwback Thursday this week might be a good place to feature a film from a genre that I so often tend to overlook. Plus, when you’ve got a film that stars both David Niven and Loretta Young to revisit, well, it seems a shame not to do so. So here we go, with a piece that first appeared on Feb 18, 2010.

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Thursday Kisses: Eternally Yours (1939) – Starring David Niven and Loretta Young

ey1Echoing the debonair adventurousness of  William Powell’s Nick Charles, today’s feature finds David Niven in the starring role of a stage magician/escape artist whose greatest trick may turn out to be reclaiming the love of his wife. Unfortunately, like most echoes, Niven’s portrayal lacks both the sharpness and lushness (in all senses of the word) found in the Thin Man series. And Loretta Young, who plays Niven’s wife/onstage assistant lacks the fire and wit of Myrna Loy’s Nora.

Of course, this really isn’t a fair comparison, because we never actually get to see Niven and Young react to poisonings, theft, or kidnappings. Instead, the problems faced by this couple are both more simple and more complicated, for it turns out that while Niven’s Arturo lives for the stage, the travelling, and the thrill, Young’s Anita longs for a simpler life… or at least so she thinks. She has even sold some jewelry given to her by her husband in order to build a home in the country where the two can finally settle down. True conflict comes, however, when Arturo’s latest stunt, jumping from a plane with his hands cuffed behind his back and having to escape from them so he can pull the ripcord on his parachute, proves not only successful, but an immense hit, and he is offered a two year contract to travel the world and put on his act. Realising that they simply want two different things from life and that Arturo is never going to settle down, Anita leaves him and eventually remarries.

ey2This, of course, puts Arturo’s life and act on the skids and he is eventually reduced to performing mind reading and hypnotism tricks at private parties. When he happens to be hired by the boss of Anita’s new husband to perform at his winter retreat, a chance meeting of the two shows that the spark of their love is still there. The question though, is what can be done, since no matter how the two may feel, Anita is now married to another man. All of this climaxes when an out-of-practice Arturo is scheduled to perform his handcuff-parachute escape at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, only to show up and find that the plane he was planning to use has been changed and he no longer has his secreted lockpick. Will Arturo find some way out of his predicament, or will Anita wind up declaring her true love to a greasy spot on the ground?

Lightweight yet engaging, this romantic comedy finds all of its players in fine form. Niven is, of course, quite dashing, and Young plays well off of him. Broderick Crawford plays Anita’s new husband, a man who basically finds himself battered on every front and swept up in events over which he has little control. C. Aubrey Smith portrays Anita’s father (a bishop!) and practically steals every scene he is in.

Like so many of these films, a proper trailer is not available online, but here’s the first few minutes of it just to give you a taste of this fine little film:

Now for the skinny:
Title: Eternally Yours
Release Date: 1939
Running Time: 95 min.
Starring: Loretta Young, David Niven, Broderick Crawford
Director: Tay Garnett
Producers: Tay Garnett, Walter Wanger
Distributed by: United Artists

Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting,
-Professor Damian

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Hope you enjoyed this blast from the past.

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