Notorious Affair A (1930)

Notorious Affair A (1930)

Directed by Lloyd Bacon with a screenplay by J. Grubb Alexander that was based on the play Fame by Audrey and Waverly Carter this less than stellar pre-code romance drama suffers from more than its (early) sound (era) quality; it features an incredibly wooden (at best) performance from male lead Basil Rathbone. He plays Paul Gherardi a starving artist musician (violin) who marries wealthy debutante Patricia Hanley (Billie Dove) for love only to cheat on her with the first other woman he meets in her high society circle the Countess Olga Balakireff (Kay Francis). It’s the acting by Dove (particularly) as the wronged wife who perseveres and Francis (more understated as are the pre-code elements than usual) as a man-eater (she chews ’em up and spits ’em out) that save this film from being a total loss.

Kenneth Thomson plays Dr. Alan Pomeroy a boyfriend from Patricia’s past that resurfaces at just the right time to help her husband recover from his guilt-induced emotional and physical collapse. Her father Sir Thomas Hanley (Montagu Love) had naturally disapproved of her daughter’s surprise marriage and had been suspicious of the violinist’s motives; he was happy to see Alan reenter Patricia’s life. The story began with the Countess the most daring horsewoman in England exhibiting her man-eating nature with the hired help (Malcolm Waite); she later dumps Paul which prompted his breakdown. Also earlier Patricia had been absent marrying Paul while her fiancĂ© Lord Percival Northmore (Philip Strange) was being toasted by her father and others. Gino Corrado appears uncredited as Paul’s pianist friend and co-performer Serge.

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