History Is Made at Night ★★★½

What with his one-liners ("Keep it up? I'm trying to keep it down!") and sight gags (the arms race of giant cleavers with a rival chef) I'd happily watch a whole movie about Cesare, where he globe-trots from restaurant to restaurant like a giddy Italian Gordon Ramsey rehabilitating old-world bistros. Once per act he rolls his eyes over his dumb-ass best friend Paul, a lovestruck dullard, then grabs his knife to make another goddam salad chiffonade and lobster cardinale.

Man, in 1937 the society page reporters were on-fucking-point! Great job getting all the scoops in a timely fashion and making sure every newspaper helpfully printed all plot exposition in black and white. Why can't these guys time travel to Shakespearean times and help out Romeo & Juliet, so the kids can pick up a paper and read the headline "Teenage Son and Daughter of Rival Families Fake Suicides to Be Together!" (next page) "Kid Must Not Overreact and Kill Self For Real!" And luckily for Vail, he has three lackeys who read the exposition to him after the audience has already had the once-over.

Not surprised we live in a country where people read the society pages every day, but not the actual news -- if they had, these moron ship captains would put two and two together and say "hmm, record speed, maiden voyage, cold temperatures at night... hasn't this gone horribly awry once before in fairly noteworthy fashion? Maybe I shouldn't listen to the jealous husband of one of my passengers"

The wallop of a final act (pretty good spectacle for 1937; not surprised it inspired Cameron even if he won't admit it) is undercut big time by the wretched last 30 seconds, tacking on an "oh shit we're about to enter WWII let's not make the audiences feel sad when they leave the theater" ending, which ruins the gorgeously tragic bullet-to-mouth of Bruce as well as Paul's best line ("everything feels so little, so unimportant"), rendering them pointless. It's everything people complain about with Hollywood endings, and it's been shit for 100 years.

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