Double Wedding, 1937

Two For One

Double Wedding - Released October 15, 1937. Directed by Richard Thorpe

Charles Lodge (William Powell) is a "vagrant" artist and would-be amateur film director living out of an auto-trailer and Margit Agnew (Myrna Loy) is a high-powered director of "Margit's," a ladies apparel company. Her niece is Irene (Forence Rice) who Margit has meticulously raised and arranged to marry the pleasant young Waldo (John Beal). The pair make a perfectly lovely couple except Waldo has no "umphh" and is so complacent about everything that he becomes carpet whenever he encounters any opposition, and pretty soon that's all he's got because the screwball comedy plot (by Jo Swerling and Forenc Moinar) has Irene becoming infatuated with the 'vagrant' and Margit tries to sabotage this before it gets out of hand, but instead causes Irene and Lodge to become engaged, to every ones chagrin (including their own, Irene just wants Waldo to grow as much spine as Lodge has).

Another problem on top of this dicey engagement is that the 'vagrant' is much more interested in Margit herself. For her part, she continuously insults him and calls Lodge names, such as a "paperhanger" (this being 1937, that's an insult. Hitler was called such not much later by the Allies during WW2).

Meanwhile, Waldo is practicing (with a little help from Powell on the side) how to stand on his own two feet and to "yowll like primitive man for his mate" - - but time is running out and with Waldo still blowing his chances to prove to Irene that he's a man, both irene and the 'Vagrant' are starting to get nervous that they're going to end up together at the alter (which happens to be inside his auto-trailor, where a great deal of the film takes place.)

Loy and Powell had a perfectly synchronized comedy style by 1937, and they make it look as effortless as a Laurel and Hardy or Abbott and Costello routine. Altogether they would make 14 films together.

Behind the scenes at Double Wedding

It was during the making of Double Wedding that Jean Harlow died (she was nearing the end of shooting on the film Saratoga, in which she and Clark Gable were the stars). On the last day that she shot any film for Saratoga, Harlow collapsed, and was sent home by car. She stopped first at the sound stage where William Powell and Myrna Loy were working on Double Wedding, and Powell was so upset by her appearance that it began the building frenzy of trying to find adequate medical help to diagnose her condition (which was done incorrectly several times) and then to forestall her death, which happened quickly with the spreading infection in her body from kidney failure.

Powell was released by M-G-M from work on Double Wedding while the funeral process for Harlow was underway, the studio intending to continue shooting with Loy for scenes that didn't need Powell, but Loy was too upset about Harlow's death and didn't report for work either.

Original Page April 2014

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