STREAMING SATURDAYS!! Myrna Loy Rules THE ANIMAL KINGDOM
Welcome to the second week of our new feature, STREAMING SATURDAYS, bringing you a fabulous free film every weekend!
This week: 1932’s The Animal Kingdom, which, had it been made two years later, would have sent everyone in the Hays Office scurrying for their scissors.
Based on a play by Philip Barry (after Holiday and before The Philadelphia Story), it stars Leslie Howard and Ann Harding as Tom and Daisy, who were living together happily as lovers until Tom’s father (Henry Stephenson), a wealthy publisher, tugged on the reins—convincing Tom to move back home, “live respectably,” and take over the family business.
Allied with Dad is Cecilia (Myrna Loy), who’s eager to marry the son with the suddenly-bright prospects. When she’s warned that Tom’s been “wasting his life from the cradle,” she responds wryly, “Aw… it must have been pathetic to see him wasting it at three!” And BAM. Just like that, Myrna Loy—the real Myrna Loy—is born. No wonder she called this one of her favorite films.
After years of toiling away as “exotics” and one-dimensional bad girls, Loy was loaned out—or should I say paroled—from MGM for this fabulous role. Mind you, she’s still bad, gaspingly so at times, but she’s also herself. And at 27, she’s already so good that she makes no actressy attempt to win the audience’s sympathy. She knows exactly what she is—a social climber and a golddigger—and she goes all in, with wit, brains and elegance to burn.
Early on, Cecilia wins her man, but not his heart. Daisy, a deco goddess if ever there was one, is still lingering languidly in the background,.. Awaiting a visit from Tom, she muses, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh. And no oil for my lamp, as usual. A foolish virgin me. Oh, foolish anyway.”
And on that note, let the games begin!