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Grand Slam

Grand Slam(1933)

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teaser Grand Slam (1933)

Movie studios of the 1930s were always on the lookout for topical subject matter. In the winter of 1932, a highly publicized 'Bridge Match of the Century' was fought between teams allied behind competing experts Ely Culbertson and Sidney Lenz, using the 'Culbertson' and 'Lenz' systems of play. Less than a year later First National released Grand Slam, a feature based on a book by B. Russell Herts. Paul Lukas plays Peter Stanislavsky, a waiter coerced into learning bridge by his wife, hatcheck girl Marcia (Loretta Young). Peter proves a natural player, besting the reigning expert Cedric Van Dorn (Ferdinand Gottschalk). Ghostwriter Speed McCann (Frank McHugh) then hypes the 'Stanislavsky method' in a book that challenges the accepted 'Van Dorn method'. The high society that follows competitive bridge soon makes Peter and Marcia into 'The Bridge Sweethearts of America.' Part of their popular appeal is predicated on the fib that the Stanislavsky method eliminates arguments between partners, whereas in real play Peter and Marcia quarrel like any other pair of bridge partners - or married people. This humorous situation is sharpened when Marcia becomes convinced that Peter's affections are drifting toward noted bridge hostess Lola Starr (Helen Vinson), and they break up. Rumors about the ghostwritten book force Peter to propose a challenge match with Van Dorn himself, and Marcia returns as Peter's partner despite their separation. William Dieterle's airy direction was praised, as was Paul Lukas for an atypical light comedy performance. Frequently-paired comedy specialists Frank McHugh and Glenda Farrell provide a second, more cynical romantic sidebar, while Variety noted that vamp Helen Vinson "...hasn't gotten her man in nine Warner pics straight." The film introduces its cast by featuring pictures of each actor displayed on a separate playing card. Not missing a beat, th
By Glenn Erickson

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