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Living on Love

Living on Love(1937)

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teaser Living on Love (1937)

The romantic comedy Living on Love (1937), a remake of Rafter Romance (1933), is one of six RKO films of the 1930s previously thought "lost" but rediscovered and restored by TCM. The films were sold out of the RKO library to producer Merian C. Cooper in 1946 and until now have not been part of the Turner collection. Extensive legal negotiations and a thorough search of the world's film archives allowed TCM to claim the films and create new, fine-grain 35mm prints in association with the Library of Congress and the BYU Motion Picture Archive. Before that, the last authorized screening of Living on Love was in brief television exposure during the late 1950s.

As in Rafter Romance, another item in TCM's package of rediscovered RKO films, the comedy revolves around two lovers who are unwitting roommates, forced by economics to share an apartment in 12-hour shifts. Although charmed by each other in the outside world, each despises his unseen housing partner and does his/her best to make the other's life miserable.

Taking over the roles played in the original by Ginger Rogers and Norman Foster are Whitney Bourne, whose career as an RKO actress was limited to the mid- to late-1930s; and James Dunn, who enjoyed a 40-year film and TV career and won an Oscar® for 1945's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Other changes include the fact that the apartment is in a basement, not an attic, and the young woman's day job is selling electric shavers rather than refrigerators. The general tone reflects the influence of screwball comedy, which had become dominant in the four years separating the films. And the fact that the film industry began enforcing its self-imposed Production Code in 1934 meant that the later film lacks some of the more free-wheeling qualities of the original. Otherwise, Living on Love is quite faithful as a remake.

This time around the pair's unwelcome suitors are played by Franklin Pangborn as Bourne's amorous supervisor and Joan Woodbury as the domineering sausage heiress who is Dunn's would-be protector. Solly Ward plays the landlord of the "Venus de Milo Arms," and ethnic humor is provided by Ken Terrell and James Fawcett as Russian acrobats known as the Ghonoff Brothers. The landlord's maid is Etta McDaniel, Hattie's lesser-known sister, who acted in films from 1933 to 1946. Appearing in an uncredited bit is Frances Gifford, who would marry Dunn a year later. (They divorced in 1942.) Director Lew Landers, who enjoyed a long career in "B" movies, later turned to series television.

The film's working titles were Love in a Basement and The Sky's the Limit.

Producer: Maury M. Cohen
Director: Lew Landers
Screenplay: Franklin Coen, from screenplay by H.W. Hanemann, Sam Mintz, Glenn Tryon, and book by John K. Wells
Cinematography: Nicholas Musuraca
Film Editing: Harry Marker
Art Direction: Van Nest Polglase
Costume Design: Reni
Cast: James Dunn (Gary Martin), Whitney Bourne (Mary Wilson), Joan Woodbury (Edith Crumwell), Solly Ward (Eli West), Tom Kennedy (Pete Ryan), Franklin Pangborn (Ogilvie O. Oglethorpe), Etta McDaniel (Lizbeth) .
BW-62m. Closed captioning.

by Roger Fristoe

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