We watched RIPTIDE, or as I keep calling it, PEPTIDE, from the talented Edmund Goulding. Robert Montgomery AGAIN! Also Norma Shearer and Herbert Marshall (pictured).

“My God she’s awful,” complained Fiona, but I think Norma is good in this one, though the film isn’t. It’s certainly a very DETAILED performance. And with less striking of anguished or flirtatious or sultry poses. She’s in rather a flurry, in fact.

A third of this is screwball comedy avant la lettre — the married couple at its centre meet while attired for a sci-fi convention futuristic ball. Cosplay! Montgomery plays a loveable feckless drunk, whose pixellated interloping chucks a spanner into the marriage that even Mrs. Patrick Campbell can’t extract. The marital strife gets to be very tedious, though — not the best use of Herbert Marshall’s clipped repression, though God knows it’s a use the movies often put him to.

It’s typical of the film’s frustrating approach that, after teasing us with Herbert’s insect man costume and Norma’s scantily clad “sky [something] girl (they repeat the costume’s name numerous times, but it’s never clear what the hell they’re saying — sky POD girl? sky RIDE girl?), the characters then decide not to go to the ball at all.

The DeMille of MADAME SATAN would never have tolerated that.

You’ll notice that ALL my frame-grabs are from the opening sequence because basically I wanted the whole film to go on like that. They could have roped in Joan Crawford’s robot buddies from THE PHANTOM EMPIRE, if they’d thought of it (yeah, I know: chronology, the sworn enemy of fun).

6 Responses to “Peptide”

  1. Screengrabs of those costumes grabbed my attention a few months ago. Too bad it wasn’t a sci-fi marital drama.

  2. Wouldn’t it!


  3. chris schneider Says:

    Never seen the entire film, only snippets. But I did just discover a note, attached to a since-“disappeared” clip of a RIPTIDE party scene, which contained this cherce bit of pansy-talk: “(effete male speaking) Oh Bert-sie, you have no *ro*-mance!”

  4. Her costume looks like a prototype for Cate Blanchett’s getup in the new THOR movie. Which makes for improbable (if not impossible) chronology, though there’s still the possibility that Jack Kirby saw it when he was young, and filed it away in his mind as a point of inspiration.

  5. It would be lovely to think so. A lot of Kirby’s costumes seem like nothing any human body has ever donned, so to discover a prototype would be valuable.

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