Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel

This is My Affair (1937) Zero stars

Directed by William Seiter. Written by Allen Rivkin, Lamar Trotti, from the novel "The McKinley Case" by Darryl . Zanuck. Photography, Rbert H. Planck. Editing. Allen McNeil. Art direction, Rudolph Sternad. Music, Mack Gordon, Harry Revel. Cast: Robert Taylor, Barbara Stanwyck, Victor McLaglen, Brian Donlevy, et al. A 20th Century Fox film.

This miserable item was released five months to the day after "Camille," that great hit, set in mid-18th century France, starring Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor. The latter's fame as the most handsome man in Hollywood either started with "Camille" or was reinforced by it.

I do think that the flattering comments about Taylor's looks were justified and still are, to this day. The "pretty boy" image had its downside, as it was (and is) not unusual to denigrate Taylor's acting talents. That's unfair. I could cite a number of very fine performances.

True, his acting in "This Is My Affair" is dismal, but so are the performances of every single other character in that movie. Dismal too is the nonsensical--no, idiotic- title of the film. And the film proper.

In brief. At a White House ball, President William McKinley (1897-1901) for reasons unknown, summons Navy Lt. Robert Taylor and sends him on a top-secret mission: find and infiltrate a gang of big-time bank robbers who could destabilize the country's economy. (Sic) Nobody but nobody else on earth must know of this project.

In civvies, with a false name, and, we presume, ample funds, Taylor circulates in Midwestern cities doing Šwell, nothing much, just listening, keeping his ear to the ground.

He ends up in St.Paul, Minnesota, at a gambling palace-cum-stage shows. That's where singer Stanwyck performs.

He pursues her. They fall in love. (In real life the two married a couple of years later. It lasted 12 years, pretty good for Hollywood then, astonishing for Hollywood now!)

The boss of the place (Donlevy) and his main acolyte (McLaglen) are revealed as the leaders of the bank-robbing gang. They're in cahoots with the corrupt local government for other matters, mostly vague.

Taylor cons them into believing he too is a thief, and joins the gang.

There's more but it's all too dumb and dumber to relate.

Taylor is wasted. So is Stanwyck, who later that year was terrific in King Vidor's "Stella Dallas." Forget about all the others.

The plot more or less concludes when Donlevy, McLaglen and Taylor still posing as a thief, get caught in a bank robbery, Donlevy is killed, the other two are sentenced to hang.

Taylor, of course, relied on President McKinley to explain things, but then, lackaday!, the President gets assassinated. And it is up to Stanwyck to convince the new President -- a caricatural Teddy Roosevelt-- to save her man.

Ugh. And re-ugh.

Director William Seiter made many indifferent movies but also some good ones. This also goes for writer Allen Rivkin. And writer Lamar Trotti was one of the better ones. How could those people make such a lemon?

The answer is that one (whoever he/she is) is as good as his/her vehicle.

The real shock however came when I saw that whoever wrote the entry for this thing in the most-popular guide book, called it "excellent" and gave it three stars!!!


Copyright © Edwin Jahiel

Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel