The Goose and the Gander (1935)Starring: Kay Francis, George Brent, Genevieve Tobin, Ralph Forbes,
Director: Alfred E. Green
Studio: Warner Bros./Vitaphone/First National
Release Date: September 1935
"I'm going to have my fling and get away with it, just for the satisfaction of doing it."A perfectly droll little comedy, The Goose and the Gander concerns several couples who get stuck together in a mountain mansion for a night. Their relations are hilariously overwrought and an attempt later in the film to unravel all of them proves futile and actually lands several characters in jail.
Tobin plays Betty Summers, married to the pompous and hideously jealous Ralph (Forbes). Betty decides to run off and spend a night of passion with Ralph's best friend, Bob McNear (Brent), while her husband is occupied. However, she'd previously stolen Ralph away from Georgiana (Francis) who overhears her plans and decides to teach Betty a lesson by entrapping Bob and Betty at her lodge in the hills. The plan goes awry, however, when a pair of jewel thieves also get mixed into the plot and when Bob and Georgiana fall inevitably in love.
Another refinement of Tobin's man eater persona, having stolen a man from his wife before the movie even begins. The rest of the film is a morality play for her character, for as she starts off confident and smug as she undertakes her affair, she's quickly laid low when her masterful plan unravels quickly.
Betty's also shown to be a gregarious opportunist, jumping at her chance to escape capture by her husband despite the danger she leaves Georgiana and Bob in from the crooks. However, and surprisingly for a film made post-Code enforcement, she gets away with her attempted daliance at the end of the movie by instead haranguing Ralph for his attempts to chase Georgiana, proving that the couple is indeed perfect for one another while Bob and Georgiana kiss nearby.
Tobin's performance makes good use out of her range. An early scene where she finds herself trapped while Georgiana goads her while pretending not to know who she is nicely underscored by Tobin nervously playing with the bow affixed to her dress. She's also stellar in the film's finale where she's called upon to stand up to her husband and quickly (and humorously) routs any possibility of him shunning her for her own actions.
The movie does belong to Francis and a lesser extent Brent, and both have fine comedic timing and charm. The plot, while unoriginal, is a hoot, nicely ramped up to possibly be noted as a minor screwball entry. Tobin's absent for the film's highlight where Francis desperately tries to explain just what happened to concerned police officers only to have the clever crooks implicate her instead with quiet bemusement.
The Goose and the Gander is well worth a watch, a nice, nutty film that certainly speaks to the glossy charm that many 1930s films are remembered and celebrated for.
ReviewsPicture Play magazine called it "the most complicated story of the month"adding "if you rise to let some one pass while you are watching the picture, one of the plot mosaics is apt to slip out of place while your attention is diverted. Then it is the devil's own job to catch up with the story." They try to do their best to relay the plot and recommend it with the caveat that the picture is entertaining so long "you have your wits about you."
The Film Daily called The Goose and the Gander 'dandy', and lists Brent and Tobin as being the highlights of the film.
Screenland complains that the film "goes to pieces" when the explanations start at the end of the film, but adds that it's a "[v]ery nicely acted play."
Mystery*File (which readily admits this movie isn't a mystery) notes, "[T]he result is very funny, as I may have mentioned before. I laughed out loud several times, and I almost never do that, especially when I am watching a movie alone, as happened to me this time."
Other Promotional Pictures
The Goose and the Gander is available on Warner Archive DVD. You can purchase it from Amazon here.
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