It's Tough to Be Famous ★★★½

Douglas Fairbanks Jr, the commander of a sunken submarine, stays behind to blast the last of his crew to safety out the torpedo tube. Navy divers arrive in time to save him. He becomes an instant hero and is surrounded by admirers and newsmen. Walter Catlett, Fairbanks’ agent, controls his publicity and potential income. The public notoriety and social pressures are intense. Women fawn over him. Fairbanks seek quiet by visiting Mary Brian, a friend, and falls asleep on her sofa. A newsman with a gossip magazine sees him leaving her house at 3 a.m. and asks if he can announce their engagement. Fairbanks says yes. After a very public wedding, they both are in the news. Fairbanks takes a job with a maker of naval supplies. The company only wants to use his name to attract buyers, and he has no actual work. Although Fairbanks and Brian love one another, they have no privacy. They quarrel frequently, and Brian leaves. Another man receives more publicity than Fairbanks whose fame is fading, and his usefulness to the naval supply company with it. His employer and Catlett convince Fairbanks to go on a dangerous publicity voyage up the Amazon in his wrecked submarine. However, Brian calls, they reconcile, and he does not make the voyage. His fame past, Fairbanks and Brian drive into the night seeking a life of peace and anonymity.

The pressures resulting from fame nearly destroy love and happiness. Fairbanks throws out wisecracks about his fame, publicity, and job.

Fairbanks, handsome and charismatic, speaks with a flat American accent. A couple of years later, he lived in England and acquired a polished English accent that enhanced his film presence. Fairbanks never reached top stardom; none of his solo starring films are of the highest rank. In the Prisoner of Zenda (1937), he has a great part as Rupert of Henzau, a handsome, charming villain, and trades wisecracks with Ronald Colman, but Colman is the star. Gunga Din (1939) is shared with Cary Grant and Victor MacLaglen.

Mary Brian was good looking but had a lackluster personality; her career faded after the early thirties.