One Night of Love ★★½

Innocuous opera-comedy (??) about an up-and-coming singer played by the sadly ill-fated Grace Moore, unusually mature for a Hollywood "it" girl of this period -- a former Thalberg protege, she was coaxed back to Hollywood by Harry Cohn for a six-picture deal at Columbia. This wrings her through the usual beats about her sparring with a controlling lover-manager, in this case a manager (Tullio Carminati) who feigns total disinterest in being her lover. Cheap-looking and weakly directed, this just barely passes muster thanks to several unexpectedly witty jokes, surely the result of some rogue dialogue insertions on the part of somebody among the five credited screenwriters; the leads do OK but can't really conquer their inconsistent and quite persistently unlikable characterizations. Moore's Mary Barrett is a shocking flake even by the standards of this rural-girl-hits-the-big-time subgenre; on top of requiring her to improbably fall for someone she deeply loathes (yes, a Hollywood convention, but appallingly ill-conceived in its execution here), it also has her rather starkly manipulating long-suffering cuckold patsy Lyle Talbot (in a distinctly Ralph Bellamy-ish role), which makes it very hard to care much about her despite her victim's boundless and laughable amiability. The performance numbers, mostly just straight lifts from M. Butterfly and Carmen, are thoroughly forgettable. But again, I laughed several times, which is a rather incongruous event in this type of film.