Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Kitty (1945)

I had never heard of the film Kitty until about a week or so ago. It was supposed to be Paramount's answer to 20th Century-Fox's blockbuster Forever Amber. However, I enjoyed it so much more than I enjoyed Forever Amber. For one thing, Paulette Goddard can act circles around Linda Darnell. The eighteenth century costumes are magnificent and the focus of the film is on the art of Thomas Gainsborough, who is one of the main characters. To quote a review from the Classic Movie Digest:
Based on a novel by Rosamond Marshall, Kitty ~ played by the pert and very pretty Paulette Goddard ~ is an 18th century guttersnipe (i.e. wanton, poverty-stricken petty thief in this case) who tries to steal from famed English painter Thomas Gainsborough (Gainsborough's celebrated works are the figures Pinky and The Blue Boy). When she is caught, the artist is struck by her good looks under the dirt and rags she wears. Instead of casting her into prison, he hires her to pose for him (in a better set of clothes of course) and when the portrait is exhibited, all of London is enthralled with the mysterious beauty. In on the charade is the attractive but penniless and mercenary fop, Sir Hugh Marcy (Ray Milland), who takes Kitty in as a servant for the household he shares with his aunt, Lady Susan Dowitt (Constance Collier). Seeking revenge on the Duke of Malmunster (Reginald Owen, in rare form), who is fascinated with Kitty's portrait, Sir Hugh tries to pass his ward off as a lady to the Duke, with both humorous and sinister bumps along the way.
The costumes are quite magnificent, much more authentic than the recent film The Duchess. The dialog is quite witty especially with such an array of characters, representative of all walks of life. Kitty is a fun and funny film, not without poignancy, both innocent and romantic, the like of which is no longer made.


Julygirl said...

Sounds like Shaw's "Pygmalion" on which "My Fair Lady" was based.

Tristan Robin said...

I saw this on TCM, too - I had never seen it, and just loved it! I agree with every one of your points.

Glad to see you're also a fan of Classic Movie Digest - Rupert makes some very astute observations - and has a wealth of trivia!

elena maria vidal said...

Julygirl, it really did remind me of Pygmalion.

Tristan, I loved the film, too, and don't understand why they had never shown it before! Yes, Rupert is great!

Unknown said...

On your recommendation I went and found this movie on Youtube. I absolutely loved it. The acting was wonderful, the story charming and the costumes amazing. Thank you.

elena maria vidal said...

I'm delighted!