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Reserved for Ladies

Reserved for Ladies(1932)

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teaser Reserved for Ladies (1932)

Reserved for Ladies (1932) was an early directorial effort by producer Alexander Korda. It starred Leslie Howard, who had gone to Hollywood and had met with success, but returned to England to make the film at the Paramount Publix Studios in London.

The film went into production under the working title The Head Waiter, based on a story of the same name by Ernest Vajda. It was a remake of a 1927 silent film Service for Ladies directed by Harry d'Arrast and starring Adolphe Menjou. The 1932 version kept the original title in the United Kingdom.

It was a routine comedy about a headwaiter who falls in love with a girl above his station, but was made memorable not only by the casting of Howard and Elizabeth Allan but because of the sophistication and quality that Korda was able to bring to the film on a very limited budget. Author Karol Kulik wrote in her biography of Korda, Alexander Korda: The Man Who Could Work Miracles that a visiting executive from Paramount's home studio in California was astonished by what he saw and commented, "It isn't your job over here to compete with us in Hollywood!"

Critical reaction to Reserved for Ladies was very positive. Mordaunt Hall in his May 21, 1932 New York Times review, called it "An intelligent comedy, that was highly successful in silent film form in 1927.[...]This current picture was made in England under the Paramount banner and it is even more amusing than its predecessor.[..] It is genuinely refreshing, intelligent fun, the dialogue being clever and the incidents neatly arranged.[...] Mr. Howard's performance is splendid. Mr. Grossmith is capital as the philosophical monarch. Miss Allan is charming and vivacious as Sylvia. Benita Hume, a very pretty girl, makes the most of the part of a designing countess, who is infatuated with Max."

There is a 'six degrees of separation' with this film: Benita Hume, who played Countess Riccardi, later married Ronald Colman, who co-starred with Elizabeth Allan (who played Sylvia Robertson) in his classic A Tale of Two Cities (1935). Merle Oberon, then at the beginning of her career and using her real name of Estelle Thompson, can be seen in Reserved for Ladies as an extra. She would work with Leslie Howard as his co-star only two years later in The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934) and would become, for a time, Mrs. Alexander Korda.

Producer: Alexander Korda
Director: Alexander Korda
Screenplay: Lajos Biro, Eliot Crawshay-Williams; Ernest Vajda (novel "The Head Waiter")
Music: Percival Mackey
Film Editing: Harold Young
Cast: Leslie Howard (Max Tracey), George Grossmith (Mr. Westlake), Benita Hume (Countess Riccardi), Elizabeth Allan (Sylvia Robertson), Morton Selten (Mr. Robertson), Cyril Ritchard (Sir William Carter), Ben Field (Breslmeyer), Annie Esmond (Duchess), Gilbert Davis (Chef uncredited), Martita Hunt (Aline uncredited), Merle Oberon (Bit Part uncredited).
BW-72m.

by Lorraine LoBianco

SOURCES
The New York Times Film Review by Mordaunt Hall, May 21, 1932
The AFI Catalog
Alexander Korda: The Man Who Could Work Miracles by Karol Kulik
The Internet Movie Database

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