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Night Must Fall (#110 of 1)

5 for the Day: Robert Montgomery

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5 for the Day: Robert Montgomery
5 for the Day: Robert Montgomery

A reliable film presence of the thirties, Robert Montgomery was locked in a “support the female star” vise at MGM for many years. Mercilessly typecast by his studio, he always seemed to be in the drawing room, mixing cocktails and blandly grinning like the cat who ate the canary; he worked six times with Joan Crawford, five times with Norma Shearer and one miserable time with Garbo in a threadbare picture called Inspiration (1931), where he unaccountably seemed mortified to be in her divine presence. Toward the end of his tenure at the studio, he was allowed to direct a movie, Lady in the Lake (1947), a Raymond Chandler adaptation told entirely with a subjective camera from the point of view of detective Philip Marlowe, and this gimmicky “I am a camera” device was just as silly as Montgomery’s “tough guy” accent as Marlowe. Cast as racketeers in The Earl of Chicago (1940) or Hide-Out (1934), MGM’s glossy idea of gangster pics, Montgomery was not convincing, but have him play a well-dressed, tippling, high class jerk and provide him with some bright remarks, and he would be sure to steal plenty of scenes as a friend with benefits to a straying leading lady.