I’ve just watched the second movie from the set Carole Lombard: The Glamour Collection. It’s called We’re Not Dressing (1934) starring Bing Crosby and Carole Lombard.
This isn’t Carole Lombard’s film. As with Man of the World (which featured William Powell) this movie is about Bing Crosby, the male lead. Lombard is in a supporting role – a large supporting role, mind you, but supporting nonetheless.
And this is why the film leaves a great deal to be desired. It is a Crosby vehicle. It’s about Crosby the crooner and from the very opening, the guy is singing to beat the band. That he is singing isn’t the problem. The problem is that there is so much of it and that the songs, when you get down to it, are okay at best. Most sound like pale imitations of “Cheek to Cheek.”
The movie, therefore, is more than a little flat. However, there are some wonderful moments in it, most of them being the Lombard scenes. In fact, you really wish the emphasis had been switched and it had been a Lombard movie with Crosby playing second banana.
The Lombard scenes are pure Lombard. They have the sexiness and feistiness and humour you expect from Carole Lombard. She shines whenever she appears.
Then there are George Burns and Gracie Allen, who are screamingly funny. Though I’ve heard of their team for many years it is seldom I’ve had a chance to see them. While I assume this is just a taste of what they were together, they are just so funny.
And then there are Ethel Merman and Leon Errol. They, too, are fabulously funny, especially Errol as the drunken uncle.
I kept wishing Crosby would stop singing so we could get back to the interesting characters.
The Crosby hero character, by the way, has little development and little substance. It’s just a stereotype. Clearly, his job was simply to sing his way into the heroine’s heart, and the audiences too. That’s too bad. It’s not that he is poor in the role; it’s that there is nothing to it and, since it is the focus of the film, the movie suffers greatly.
But … for some of its sporadic better moments, We’re Not Dressing is worth a look.