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Brides Are Like That (1936), the 11th of 16 movies made by the tragic young actor Ross Alexander at Warner Bros. during the period 1934 through 1936, was one of the star vehicles in a variable career in which Alexander frequently switched from featured player to leading man and back again.
Adapted by screenwriter Ben Markson from a 1925 Broadway play by Barry Conners called Applesauce, the movie has Alexander playing Bill McAllister, the charming yet irresponsible nephew of a wealthy apple merchant (Joe Cawthorn). Bill is a specialist in spreading figurative "applesauce," or flattery, to get his way with other people. The movie's original trailer proclaims that the character is "The nicest, sweetest, gayest, cleverest, biggest buffer in the world."
When Bill prefers playing golf to looking for work after his uncle has sent him through college, he is cut off without any money. But he still manages to find true love with Hazel Robinson (Anita Louise), who is not impressed by wealth, and must convince her to marry him instead of a stodgy doctor (Richard Purcell, later known as Dick).
As directed by William C. McGann (who would also direct Alexander in 1936's Hot Money), all of the actors deliver their dialogue in the rat-a-tat-tat Warner Bros. style of the period. Purcell has fun with what might be called the Ralph Bellamy role, and real-life married couple Gene and Kathleen Lockhart play Hazel's disapproving parents.
Frank S. Nugent gave the movie a positive review in The New York Times, noting that the play was adapted with "unimpaired vigor, warmth and humor" and "played with proper exuberance by its cast." He had special praise for Alexander's handling of his role "with considerable humor and impudence" and McAllister's "dialectically sputtering uncle." Nugent also noted that the husband-and-wife bickering of the Lockharts had a "suspicious naturalness."
Louise, a stunning blonde, had earlier appeared as Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), in which Alexander played Demetrius. At the time, although he was married to Aleta Friele, Alexander and Louise were rumored to be having an affair.
In December 1935 Friele committed suicide with a gun to her head. In January 1937 Alexander followed suit, killing himself in similar fashion. Ironically, in Brides Are Like That, when Louise initially turns down his marriage proposal, Alexander says "Cheer up, honey. I'm not going to shoot myself."
The same Conners play served as the basis for another Warner Bros. movie, Always a Bride (1940), starring George Reeves and Rosemary Lane.
Producer: Bryan Foy (uncredited)
Director: William McGann
Screenplay: Ben Markson (screenplay); Barry Conners (play "Applesauce")
Cinematography: Sid Hickox
Art Direction: Esdras Hartley
Film Editing: Clarence Kolster
Cast: Ross Alexander (Bill McAllister), Anita Louise (Hazel Robinson), Joseph Cawthorn (Uncle Fred Schultz), Kathleen Lockhart (Mrs. Ella Robinson), Gene Lockhart (John 'Jackie Boy' Robinson), Richard Purcell (Dr. Randolph Jenkins), Mary Treen (Jennie Baldwin), Joseph Crehan (Tom Carter), Frank Darien (Clem Brown), Robert Emmett Keane (Jones, the Jeweler).
BW-67m. Closed Captioning.
by Roger Fristoe