Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Sin Takes a Holiday|
Actors: Constance Bennett, Kenneth MacKenna, Basil Rathbone, Rita La Roy, Louis John Bartels
Director: Paul L. Stein
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Studio: Gotham (dba Alpha) Release Date: 05/25/2004
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"Isn't all luck staying single?"
Steven Hellerstedt | 09/08/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"By 1930 the Great Depression had eaten off the fat of the land and was beginning to gnaw on the gristle and bone. America was ripe for a tale of a frowzy duckling who was only a designer dress and expensive hairdo away from blossoming into a glorious swan.
The Cinderella in SIN TAKES A HOLIDAY is Constance Bennett, although the dvd cover would lead one to believe Basil Rathbone was the star. Bennett's is the only name over the title, and Rathbone is listed third after the largely forgotten Kenneth MacKenna. At the high of her popularity Bennett's star shone much brighter than Rathbone's, although it went super nova in the `40s and dimmed to a candle glow, while Rathbone's maintained a steady glimmer all these years.
SIN begins inauspiciously enough. High-falutin' tuxedoed divorce lawyer MacKenna is basking in his bachelorhood and his intimate affair with a woman of means. Bennett is his overworked, $35 a week secretary who's carrying a serious torch for the boss. To her distress, the boss can't see past her bargain basement, sensible dress to the woman within. Rathbone and a passel of swank femmes and wastrel gents are introduced in act one, and the movie groans beneath their collective weight. These opening exposition scenes are usually interminable unless written by Ben Hecht, which this one ain't. It would be so much better if the actors would enter with cards about their necks explaining who they are. All the women would wear signs reading "Cat," and the men would wear ones reading "Hen-pecked alcoholic husband," "Gigolo," "Blind to the one who really loves you," etc. It would save us from their "witty" conversation and take us out of the stage-y apartment set.
The plot does get some work done in the opening act, though. MacKenna learns that his married lover is filing for divorce and he's being named as a co-respondent. This news doesn't startle or upset him nearly as much as the possibility, bordering on probability, that she will move in with him and -gulp- insist on marrying him. To buffer himself against this unfortunate possibility he sells secretary Bennett on a scheme to marry him, in name only, arguing that it's "a better job" than the one she has now.
Things really pick up in act two, with the naïve young missus embarking on a solitary honeymoon trip to Paris. Slender wolf Rathbone, who just so happens to be on the same boat, makes his push. They strike up a platonic friendship. Platonic on Bennett's side, at least. Rathbone prowls about after her when they reach the continent and convinces her to stay at his villa outside of Paris. This being the 30's and Bennett being a 30's romantic heroine, Rathbone is not staying at the villa this season. Plato would be pleased.
The second act provides the key to this movie, I believe. Bennett, still secretly in love with her now husband is pensive and introspective. Rathbone picks up on it and insists that tomorrow she go and buys clothes, get her hair done. Bennett demurs. Rathbone presses his case "It will give you a feeling of power," he says. "Power!" Bennett echoes as the scene fades out. Any philosopher will tell you that Truth is the ultimate power, and any poet worth his salt will tell you that Truth is Beauty. To survive in the modern world, more importantly, to be noticed, Beauty needs to be ornamented and enhanced. "Then he'll notice ME...."
It works. Bennett becomes the Belle of the continental smart set. Latin baritones sing love songs to her, ancient generals ask her into the garden for a private talk, and decrepit dowagers invite her to holiday with them in Berlitz. Even Rathbone starts to get a little mushy about the gills.
The third act ties things up quite nicely, thank you. Bennett arrives in full plumage and a scale or two falls from the eyes of her "contract" husband. The femme cats, with dissipate tuxedoed males in tow, arrive for the show ending showdown with the empowered bride.
After it crawled out of the mucky first act SIN TAKES A HOLIDAY is an engaging romantic drama. Bennett has a light touch and slim beauty that wins and sustains your sympathy. Rathbone plays the young swain with a cerebral panache and makes what could be a callous character a sensitive and compassionate one.
The video quality on this disk is so-so.
Marriage for Convenience
Samantha Kelley | USA | 10/04/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Sin Takes a Holiday is a film about a secretary Sylvia (Constance Bennett) who is in love with her boss. Gaylord Stanton (Kenneth MacKenna) has a group of friends who feels it is better to be a bachelor with a lover than to ever get married. Thus when his lover plans to divorce her husband for him, he asks his secretary for her hand, only in name of course. Her heart is broken but she goes along with his request and heads to France with a ring on her finger and an emptiness in her heart. While there, she reunites with her new husband's friend Reginald Durant (Basil Rathbone). He becomes entranced with her transformation thanks to her new wealth and asks for her hand.
The beginning of the film drags and it doesn't really become interesting until Sylvia returns home to her husband with her fiancée in tow. Then, the couple has a party to which Gaylord's lover and Sylvia's fiancée are invited along with other various friends. Here, beautiful music is both sung and played and catfights ensue. The pre-code nature is not as intense here as it is in other films despite being the main vein of the story. The movie comes out as being a step above bland, certainly nothing to rave about."