Sunday, April 5, 2009

Kitty: Regency Magic

Paulette Goddard was one of the top stars at Paramount during the 1940's, starring in everything from comedies (The Ghost Breakers) to wartime dramas (So Proudly We Hail) but no film showcases her charming persona and acting abilities like Kitty (1945). Made at the height of her career, Goddard gives what many consider her best performance as an 18th century guttersnipe who marries her way up the social ladder to become a duchess.

Kitty is part Eliza Doolittle (Pygmalion), part Amber St. Clair (Forever Amber) and part Becky Sharp (Vanity Fair). The one constant in her life during her rise to social prominence is her love for caddish rogue Ray Milland. It's the only part of the movie that rubs me the wrong way. Why she would go to the lengths she does for Milland's ungrateful, foppish Sir Hugh is beyond me! The film's sets are as lush and gorgeous as it's heroine is comely, being Oscar nominated for Art Direction-Interior Decoration-Black & White.

Acting highlights include Constance Collier as a tipsy grifter who befriends Kitty and Reginald Owen in a delightful performance as the wealthy if long in the tooth Duke of Malmunster who takes a fancy to the beautiful Kitty.

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