review for Idiot's Delight on AllMovie

Idiot's Delight (1939)
by Craig Butler review

The sight of a platinum blonde Norma Shearer takes some getting used to -- but then so does most of Shearer in Idiot's Delight. For whatever reason, Shearer never really "gets" the character. She provides the extravagance that the character calls for, but without the fun or satire, and she often seems to be acting in a vacuum; there may be other characters onscreen with her, but she rarely really connects with them. As a result, there's very little chemistry between her and Clark Gable, a serious problem. Gable, luckily, doesn't need her. His performance is a small gem, played with a light touch when appropriate and at full guns when needed. And the chance to see the King performing "Puttin' On the Ritz" is fascinating. He doesn't really do it well, but he does it like Gable, and that's more than enough. Robert Sherwood's play has been significantly altered, but the alternations are not all improvements, especially in terms of the characters played by Burgess Meredith and Edward Arnold. Things have become a little too pat, and the ending rankles, but there's still enough in Idiot to make it worth the occasional viewing.