A rare find tonight at Satuday Night Cinema, MGM's "Come and Get It," starring Edward Arnold (who seemed to me the perfect father figure when I would watch him on "The Late Late Show" in what now seeems forever ago). Frances Farmer (whose life was made famous by Jessica Lange in the academy award-winning "Frances") is bewitiching as the hardened beer-hall harlot. You won't be able to take your eyes off Farmer.
William Wyler and Howard Hawks share directing credit. Samuel Goldwyn was intrigued by the fact that Hawks' grandfather had served as the basis for the character of Barney Glasgow. But unhappy with Hawks' direction of the film (the first half is decidely Hawks), Goldwyn fired him and brought Wyler on.
Come and Get It (1936)
THE SCREEN; Mr. Goldwyn, and the Rivoli, Present a Film Version of Edna Ferber's Novel, 'Come and Get It.' By FRANK S. NUGENT
Published: November 12, 1936
Chalk up another hit for Samuel Goldwyn, one of the few producers in Hollywood who refuses to be content with mediocrity. His film version of Edna Ferfaer's "Come and Get It" is as fine in its way as those earlier Goldwyn successes of this year, "These Three" and "Dodsworth." It has the same richness of production, the same excellence of performance, the same shrewdness of direction. Mr. Goldwyn has been the butt of many Broadway and Hollywood wits, but he has acquired the habit of laughing last, and best, when his pictures have gone to town. They have been his star witnesses, and the one now playing at the Rivoli is as eloquent as any he has introduced.
Miss Ferber's novel was a colorful and vigorous history of a Wisconsin lumber dynasty over a span of fifty years. The film has narrowed its field somewhat by letting one generation, remain unborn and concentrating on the lusty, brawling life of Barney Glasgow, the lumber camp chore boy who became a timber tycoon. This elision has arrested the panoramic sweep of the story, converting it from a mural of the American scene into a vividly toned portrait of a man. But the transformation is readily excusable, for Barney was the heart of the novel and we felt it had stopped beating when he died.
Edward Arnold, in the central role, gives a virile and full-blooded characterization of the ambitious timber wolf who permitted nothing to stand in his way during the power-grabbing years, and then, in his middle age, groped desperately and hopelessly for the ideal romance he had tossed aside in his youth. A tragic figure, deluding himself with the belief that the years have left him unscathed, he becomes infatuated with the daughter of the woman he once had loved and surrendered, but loses her to his son. Bitterest of all in his defeat is the whiplash of the girl's innocent remark that he is an "old man."
Although there is nothing new in the theme, it has been simply and powerfully expressed by a number of admirable performances, and it has been played against an interesting background. There are several extraordinarily graphic scenes of logging operations, the atmosphere of the late Eighties and early Nineties has been reproduced handsomely in the settings and costumes and, whether the action occurs in a. Northwoods cabaret or in a Hollywood re-creation of Rectors, it never fails to reward your attention. There's nothing static about this one, thanks to Howard Hawks and William Wyler, the directors; to Gregg Toland's photography, and to the work of a uniformly fine cast.
Frances Farmer, first as Lotta Morgan, the cabaret singer, and then as her daughter, is not merely a delight to the masculine eye, but an actress of more than usual merit, and Mr. Goldwyn is to be congratulated for having recognized it. Walter Brennan is faultless as that honest Swede, Swan Bostrom; Joel McCrea is his usual forthright self as an idealized Richard Glasgow, his father's rival in love; and there are pleasant contributing performances by Cecil Cunningham as Barney's cynical secretary, by Mary Nash as Emma Louise, Andrea Leeds as Evvie Frank Shields (the tennis-playing Mr. Shields) as the millhand, Tony Schwerke, and by Mady Christians, as a considerably modified Karie. You won't find "Come and Get It" a thoroughly Ferber work, but enough of her has been retained and enough good Goldwyn added to make it a genuinely satisfying picture.
COME AND GET IT, based on the book by Edna Ferber; screen play by Jules Furthman and Jane Murfin; directed by Howard Hawks and William Wyler; produced by Merritt Hulburd for Samuel Goldwyn; released by United Artists. At the Rivoli.
Barney Glasgow . . . . . Edward Arnold
Richard Glasgow . . . . . Joel McCrea
Lotta Morgan and Lotta Bostrom . . . . . Frances Fanner
Swan Bostrom . . . . . Walter Brennan
Evvie Glasgow . . . . . Andrea Leeds
Tony Schwerke . . . . . Frank Shields
Karie . . . . . Mady Christians
Emma Louise Glasgow . . . . . Mary Nash
Gunnar Gallagher . . . . . Clem Bevans
Sid Le Maire . . . . . Edwin Maxwell
Josie . . . . . Cecil Cunningham
Gubbins . . . . . Harry Bradley
Steward . . . . . Rollo Lloyd
Hewitt . . . . . Charles Halton
Chore Boy . . . . . Phillip Cooper
Goodnow . . . . . Al K. Hall